ever of St. Peter having been in either of those countries. At the same time it must be acknowledged, that there is so long an interval, in which we have no account of St. Peter, that it is very possible he might have travelled both into Assyria and Egypt. There was also a third Babylon, namely, in Seleucia, whence Beausobre and L'Enfant think it most proba. ble that this Epistle was written, because that city abounded with Jews; but this reason does not appear to me sufficient to warrant such a conclusion. Upon the whole it may be best to accede to the more general opinion, that Babylon is here used figuratively for Rome; and more especially since Eusebius, the oldest author extant who mentions this subject, says, that in his time it was thought that this Epistle was written from Rome (u). It is certain that St. John used Babylon figuratively for Rome in the Revelation. Some few persons have been inclined to think, that St. Peter wrote this Epistle from Jerusalem

[ocr errors]

V. If we be right in considering this Epistle as written from Rome, we may place its date about the year 64; sịnce there is no reason to believe that Peter went to Rome till after Paul's

release (u) H. E, lib. 2. cap. 15.

release from imprisonment in that city, in the

year 63.

VI. The general design of this Epistle is to exhort to practical virtue, to a quiet and blameless life, and to patience and fortitude under distresses and persecutions. St. Peter, after his salutation, begins with returning thanks to God for the blessing of the gospel dispensation, which, he observes, had been distinctly foretold by the prophets; he next exhorts his Christian brethren to holiness and purity; and represents the passion of Christ as pre-ordained before the foundation of the world, and its benefits as extending to all eternity (x); he proceeds to recommend meekness, self-government, and obedience to magistrates; he enforces the duties of servants (y), of wives, and husbands; he enjoins harmony, compassion, courtesy, a rational knowledge of the Christian faith, and a steady adherence to it under trials and temptations (); from a consideration of the last judgment, he inculcates sobriety, des votion, and universal benevolence; and encou. rages the Christians to bear afflictions with resignation and cheerfulness (a); and in the last chapter he gives directions for the conduct of per


[blocks in formation]

sons of different ages and situations; recommends mutual subjection, humility, and vigilance; and adds a general benediction and doxology (b).

This Epistle is very generally admired as a composition : Erasmus says, that it is worthy of the Prince of the Apostles, and full of apostolical dignity and majesty; and Osterwald calls it one of the finest works of the New Testament. Whoever will compare this Epistle with those of St. Paul, will find so exact a conformity between the sentiments and precepts contained in them, that he will be convinced, as Estius observes, that the doctrine of both proceeded from one and the same Spirit of God.

(b) C. 5.





I. Geruineness of this Epistle.-II. Its Design and

Date.--III. The Substance of it.

1. Clement of Rome and Hermas refer to this Epistle; it is mentioned by Origen and Euseþius, and has been universally received since the fourth century, except by the Syriac Christians.

II. It is addressed to the same persons as the former Epistle, and the design of it was to encourage them to adhere to the genuine faith and practice of the Gospel. It was written when the Apostle foresaw that his death was at no great distance; and he might hope that advice and instruction given under such circumstances would have the greater weight. As he is supposed to have suffered martyrdom in the year 65, we may place the date of this Epistle in the beginning of that year. It was probably written from



III. ST. PETER, after saluting the Christian converts, and representing the glorious promises of the Gospel dispensation, exhorts them to cultivate those virtues and graces, which would make their calling and election sure; he expresses his anxiety to remind them of their duty at a time

when he was conscious of his approaching end; : he declares the divine origin of the Christian

faith, which was attested by a voice from heaven, and by the sure word of prophecy (a); he foretels the rise of heresies and false doctrines, and denounces severe judgments against those who shall desert the truth, while they who adhere to it will be spared, as Noah and Lot were in former times (6); he assures his Christian brethren, that the object of this, and of his former Epistle, was to urge them to observe the precepts which they had received; he cautions them against false teachers, represents the certainty of the day of judgment, reminds them of the doctrines which he and St. Paul had inculcated, and exhorts them to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (c).

Some (a) C. 1. (b) C. 2,

(c) C. 3.

« ElőzőTovább »