« הקודםהמשך »
you are, so long as ye do well, and are not terrified with any amazement, or danger you may meet with in the way of your duty. 7 Ye husbands, likewise, dwell with your wives, according to your
knowledge of the gospel ; allotting an honourable subsistence to the woman, as the weaker vessel less able to labour, and live and converse together as those who are joint-heirs of the grace of life; that your joint prayers may not be hindered*, nor the pleasures of devolion be impaired by alienation of heart.
REFLECTIONS. Let us observe with a pleasing attention, how greatly solicitous all the apostles are, not only to establish the doctrines of Christianity, but to inculcate its precepts ; particularly those which refer to the relative duties of life. The comprehensive argument by which St. Peter enforces those of one peculiar relation, may be considered as also enforcing all the rest ; I mean, the tendency of our exemplary behaviour, to win over those who are without the word, or are disobedient to it. In this manner let us all plead the cause of our Lord and Master. And this silent, this winning eloquence will, by the divine blessing, be powerful and effectual.— The vail of modesty is decent in all, and an humble caution, and fear of offending, are to be considered as duties of universal obligation. But if the weaker sex are commanded to aim at a noble superiority to the concerns of this animal life, and to the parade and vanity of dress, it may with gealer reason be expected from men, who boast of their superior understanding, and larger experience. They, not only from Christian humility, but, one would think, even from a manly pride, should be raised above such childish ornaments, in contriving and adjusting which, many who are styled rational creatures, spend much too large a portion of their precious time, and for the sake of which they neglect the cultivation and embellishment of their intelligent and immortal part, and the secur'ing a happiness that will never have an end : as if glittering in the eyes of our fellow-worms were so desirable a thing, that it were worth while, for the sake of it, to expose ourselves to condemnation from God! Lét the hidden man of our heart be more our care ; and when that is rightly governed, the proper conduct of our external behaviour will be natural and easy.
Let us labour to walk according to knowledge ; to behave as those who have been well instructed in the science of the gospel, in comparison of which all other sciences are ignorance and vanity. Let us be ready to make allowance for the natural infirmitics of those about us. Especially, let husbands consider those of their wives (not as an encouragement to oppression, than which nothing could be more ungenerous, but) as an engagement in all honour and conscience to a tender and respectful behaviour. How becoming and amiable is such conduct in those who through divine grace are heirs of eternal life!
* These words seem strongly to intimate the great importance of social prayer ; as, when we shortly expect to unite in acts of domestic devotion, a con. cern not to be notoriously unfit for it, will be a guard upon our general behav, ionr.
And if a due care be not maintained on this head, there will be an indisposition for social and for secret prayer; and when the pleasures of devotion are clestroyed or embittered, it is not to be expected any other kind of pleasure, worth the regard of a rational creature, can long continue.
Various arguments to enforce an inoffensive, benevolent, and useful life, and
to a courageous adherence to religion. Ch. ii. 8–17. 8 TO conclude this head, be all unanimous, sympathising, full of 9 1 brotherly-love, compassionate, friendly : not returning evil
for evil, nor reproach for reproach ; but on the contrary, blessing,
knowing that to this purpose ye were called, that ye might inher10 it a blessing. For (as it is said, P8. xxxiv. 12.) he that would
love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, 11 and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil, 12 and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it: for the eyes of
the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their
supplications; but the face of the Lord is against them that do 13 evil. And who shall hurt you, if ye imitate him who is supreme14 ly good ? But if you should suffer on account of righteousness,
ye are happy. Therefore fear not their terror, neither be troub15 led; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be always pre
pared to offer an apology to every one that demandeth of you an
account of the hope, which is in you, with meekness and reverence: 16 Having a good conscience, that wherein they speak against you
as evil doers, they may be ashamed, who revile your good con17 versation in Christ. For it is better to suffer, if it be the will of
God, for doing good, than for doing evil.
REFLECTIONS. How very astonishing, and lamentable is it, that when the way to happiness is so plainly delineated, so few should find it! What man is there, who does not desire life, and love many days, in which he may see good? Yet how few longues are kept from evil, how few lips from speuking guile ! How few decline from evil, and do good ! How few seek peace, and pursue it ! On the contrary, how much low cunning and artifice, and what discords and contentions reign among mankind! And they often issue in those bloody wars and fightings, which arise from those lusts that war in our members. How detestable, and how miserable, do these perverse and ungovernable passions render us ! How sadly do they prevent the ascent of our prayers to God, and the descent of his mercies upon us ! Mercies, which he is ever ready to impart to those who are meet and disposed to receive them.
There is notwithstanding a little remnant, who are righteous before him; and to them his gracious eye is continually directed for their good : to their cry, yea to the soft whispers of their supplications, his cars are ever open. Honoured and happy above all the children of
men are they who have the farour and the attention of tlie great Sovereign of the universe. Who will be able to hurt or injure them, should they have malignity enough to wish and attempt it? And as this loving-kindness of the Lord is thus productive of security and happiness to his people, let it engage us to be followers and imitators of him, who is supremely good. We may then face all the menaces of a frowning world with an holy intrepidity, and sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts, making him our frar and our dread, we need not have any terrible apprehensions of what men or devils can do unto us. Yea, we shall in that case, not only have nothing to fear, but every thing to hope, which can conduce to our real and cverlasting felicity. Encouraged by these important considerations, let it be our care, in the fear of God, to study and endeavour clearly to understand the foundations of our religion, and of our glorious hopes, that we may be able to defend it against every attack, however formidable, and to give an account of our hope to all who shall demand it, in sweet harmony and complacency of soul, undisturbed with the disquietude, and untainted with the example, of those who render pil for evil, and railing for railing. On the contrary, let us greatly triumph over all ill-usage, by repaying it with good ; and may a sense of that important blessing, which by the gospel we are called to inherit, diffuse that pleasure and happiness through our whole souls, which may carry them above the resentment of the little injuries we receive from the unkindness of men, and dispose us to every genuine expression of that unlimited benevolence which should fill and expand the hearts of those who are thus feasted with the divinest hopes and consolations.
The Apostle urges the atonement, resurrection, and exultction of Christ,
the obligation of the baptismal covenant, and the solemnity of the last judgment, to engage them to a life of mortification and holiness. Ch. iii. 18-iv. 6.
18 IT is better that you should suffer for doing well than for doing
I evil, because Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for
the unjust, that he might introduce us to God ; being indeed put 19 to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit : by which Spirit
granted to his servant Noah going forth, he preached to the wicked 20 spirits now in prison : who were long since disobedient, when
once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while
the ark was preparing ; in which few, that is eight souls, were 21 carried safely through the water. The anti-type* to which doth
now save us, I mean baptism ; not the putting away the pollu
tion of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience in the pre22 sence of God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ; who is at the
right-hand of God, being gone into heaven ; angels, authorities, iv. and powers being made subject to him.--As Christ therefore hath
* The thing which corresponds with and was figured by that ARK; or is the instrument of our preservation as the ark was of their's.
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same
mind ; for he who in conformity to Christ hath suffered in the flesh, 2 hath ceased from sin, so as no longer to live his remaining time in
the flesh, according to the lusts of men, but according to the will 3 of God. For the time of life that is past, may be sufficient for us
to have wrought the will of the gentiles, when ye walked in las
civiousness, inordinate desires, excess of wine, banqueting, drunk4 enness, and unlawful idolatries. In respect to which they think
it strange that you run not with them into the same profusion of 5 riot, speaking evil of you : who shall give an account to him that 6 is ready to judge the living and the dead. For to this purpose
the gospel was preached also to the Gentiles, who were dead in sins, that they might be judged according to men in the flesht, but might live according to God in the spirit ; being brought to a spiritual and divine life.
REFLECTIONS. Let our devoutest meditations frequently dwell on the benefits we receive by the death of Christ, and the wonderful manner in which they are conveyed. The important end for which he suffered, the just for the unjust, was to introduce us into the presence and favour of God : let us rejoice, that we are brought nigh to the infinite majesty of heaven, the indefectible source of perfection and blessedness; and always live in a state of nearness and intimacy with him ; dreading the most distant approach to that disobedience to the heavenly message, which even after the patience of God waited on them, proved fatal to the sinful inhabitants of the old world. That patience indeed waits upon us ; but as their time was limited, so is ours. For ever blessed be the Father of mercies, that by Christ he hath made provision for our salvation, as he did of old for Noah and his family, by commanding him to prepare an ark. But then let us remember, the baptisin that saves, is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. If we have this inward witness, let the resurrection of Christ, and his exaltation to supreme glory at the right hand of the Father, encourage our sublimest hopes; and let us triumph in him as our all-sufficient Saviour, who, though he were once crucified, now sits on the throne of his glory, principalilies and prowers being made subject to him.
Let the recollection of his bitter sufferings excite our zeal and courage in his sacred cause, and arm us with a conformity of sentiments and resolutions to his own; that we may cease from sin ; that we may spend the residue of our lives, not in following the lusts of the Aesh, but in fulfilling, in all respects, the will of our God. Let us often l'eflect, that, perhaps, we were long insensible of his sacred authority, and in niany instances were the sport of irregular appetites and passions : let the past part of our lives suffice, and be deemed more than sufficient, to be spent in this inglorious and detestable slavery.
+ Might be brought to such a state of life, as their carnal neighbours will esteem a condemnation to death. D.-" That although they might be condemned indeed by men in the fiesh (i. e. carnal men they might Live,” &c. M
By mortification let us assert our liberty. And though others wonder at our abstinence, severity, and self-denial, let us not envy that excess of riot into which, with unbridled eagerness, they allow themselves to run. But seriously considering the arvful account they must render (though alas! so ill prepared for it) to the great Judge of quick and dead ; let us readily choose, and cheerfully submit to the severest mortification which God may require of us. Let us rather embrace a life which infidels would esteem death, than expose our immortal souls to the judgment of God, to his condemnation, from which there lies no appeal, and which will consign over impenitent sinners to an execution infinitely dreadful, beyond their utmost fears and apprehensions.
He exhorts them to watchfulness and fidelity in improving their several tal
ents, and to fortitude amidst their persecutions. The inevitable destruction which will overwhelm the impenitent. Ch. iv. 7-19.
7 D UT the end of all things is at hand: Be sober, therefore, and 8 D watch to prayer: Above all things maintaining fervent love 9 towards one another; for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be 10 hospitable to each other, without grudging. As every one hath
received the free gift of God, exercise it towards each other, as 11 good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any one speak,
let him handle the subject as becometh the oracles of God. If any one minister, let it be according to the ability which God suppli. eth; that God may in all things be glorified by Jesus Christ;
to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Beloved, be not surprised at the fiery trial which is to try you, 13 as if some strange thing had befallen you ; but rejoice, as being
partakers of the sufferings of Christ; that when his glory shali 14 be revealed, ye may be even transported with joy. If you are
reproached for the name of Christ, ye are happy, because the Spir.
it of glory and of God resteth upon you : though he is blasphemed 15 on their part, yet on yours he is glorified. But let not any of you
suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a malefactor, or as over busy 16 in the affairs of others*. But if any of you suffer as a Christian,
let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this respect : 17 because the time is coming when judgment is to begin at the house
of God. And if it begin first with us, what shall be the end of 18 those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the right
eousbe saved with difficulty, the ungodly and the sinner, where shall 19 he appear? Therefore let them also who suffer according to the
will of God, commit their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator, in well doing.
* Some understand this of aspiring to public authority.