1 Peter 1** The same great doctrines, as in St. Paul's epistles, are hereapplied to same practical purposes. And this epistle isremarkable for the sweetness, gentleness, and humble love, withwhich it is written. It gives a short, and yet a very clearsummary, both of the consolations and the instructions needfulfor the encouragement and direction of a Christian in hisjourney to heaven, raising his thoughts and desires to thathappiness, and strengthening him against all opposition in theway, both from corruption within, and temptations andafflictions without. * The apostle blesses God for his special benefits throughChrist. (1-9) Salvation by Christ foretold in ancient prophecy.(10-12) All are exhorted to holy conversation. (13-16) Such asis suitable to their principles, privileges, and obligations.(17-25)1-9 This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who arestrangers in every city or country where they live, and arescattered through the nations. These are to ascribe theirsalvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption ofthe Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so togive glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they hadbeen baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to anuncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built uponsand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind andgroundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the livingGod is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to itseffect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enablesto meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring ofall this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And thiswell-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and livingprinciple of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matterof a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laidup for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, itis an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; thissignifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is notsometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still likeitself. All possessions here are stained with defects andfailings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad caresflying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and fulltables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. Allpossessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in usingthem. How ready we are to turn the things we possess intooccasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is noliberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldlypossessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowersand plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth,which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happyare those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance.God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them untoglory. Every believer has always something wherein he maygreatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance andconduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise loveoften appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts,and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase bytrial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, andmultiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish atlast, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial offaith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let thisreconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believeChrist's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this willkindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in asacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our ownhappiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now,we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subjectto evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers hadalready received it. 10-12 Jesus Christ was the main subject of the prophets'studies. Their inquiry into the sufferings of Christ and theglories that should follow, would lead to a view of the wholegospel, the sum whereof is, That Christ Jesus was delivered forour offences, and raised again for our justification. God ispleased to answer our necessities rather than our requests. Thedoctrine of the prophets, and that of the apostles, exactlyagree, as coming from the same Spirit of God. The gospel is theministration of the Spirit; its success depends upon hisoperation and blessing. Let us then search diligently thoseScriptures which contain the doctrines of salvation. 13-16 As the traveller, the racer, the warrior, and thelabourer, gathered in their long and loose garments, that theymight be ready in their business, so let Christians do by theirminds and affections. Be sober, be watchful against allspiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate in allbehaviour. Be sober-minded in opinion, as well as in practice,and humble in your judgment of yourselves. A strong and perfecttrust in the grace of God, is agreeable with best endeavours inour duty. Holiness is the desire and duty of every Christian. Itmust be in all affairs, in every condition, and towards allpeople. We must especially watch and pray against the sins towhich we are inclined. The written word of God is the surestrule of a Christian's life, and by this rule we are commanded tobe holy every way. God makes those holy whom he saves. 17-25 Holy confidence in God as a Father, and awful fear of himas a Judge, agree together; and to regard God always as a Judge,makes him dear to us as a Father. If believers do evil, God willvisit them with corrections. Then, let Christians not doubtGod's faithfulness to his promises, nor give way to enslavingdread of his wrath, but let them reverence his holiness. Thefearless professor is defenceless, and Satan takes him captiveat his will; the desponding professor has no heart to availhimself of his advantages, and is easily brought to surrender.The price paid for man's redemption was the precious blood ofChrist. Not only openly wicked, but unprofitable conversation ishighly dangerous, though it may plead custom. It is folly toresolve, I will live and die in such a way, because myforefathers did so. God had purposes of special favour towardhis people, long before he made manifest such grace unto them.But the clearness of light, the supports of faith, the power ofordinances, are all much greater since Christ came upon earth,than they were before. The comfort is, that being by faith madeone with Christ, his present glory is an assurance that where heis we shall be also, #Joh 14:3|. The soul must be purified,before it can give up its own desires and indulgences. And theword of God planted in the heart by the Holy Ghost, is a meansof spiritual life, stirring up to our duty, working a totalchange in the dispositions and affections of the soul, till itbrings to eternal life. In contrast with the excellence of therenewed spiritual man, as born again, observe the vanity of thenatural man. In his life, and in his fall, he is like grass, theflower of grass, which soon withers and dies away. We shouldhear, and thus receive and love, the holy, living word, andrather hazard all than lose it; and we must banish all otherthings from the place due to it. We should lodge it in ourhearts as our only treasures here, and the certain pledge of thetreasure of glory laid up for believers in heaven.
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