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ve never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner.
0 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
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. vii. 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 fore-cited 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'sepistles. 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; ta times past they acre 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 t beta, Lo ammi, Ye are not my people. Hot- i. 9. but now upon their believing in Cora* 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 him have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Observe here, 1. A dehortation, Abstain from fleshly lusts. Guest. What is here meant by lusts? Ans-w. 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. Suest. But what is it to abstain from fleshly lusts f Ans-w. 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, 'Avainjrot, 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 condition in the world; ye are strangers and pilgrims in the world, and therefore should act as strangers, who are not wont to be over-much 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.
12 Having your conversation honest amongst the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
From the apostle's dehortation 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 tho 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 among 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 evil-doers: Whereas they speak evil of you as evil-doers. 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 evildoers : 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: im, plying, 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. v. 16. how else can men be patterns of good works, as they are required, Tit. ii. 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 Iris gospel, to believe in his Son: the day of saving conversion is a day of gracious visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the King, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
Our apostle having exhorted them in general to take care that their conversation be honest among the Gentiles, he now descends 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 qualityof 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. viii. 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.
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
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 thet 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 spiritual 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.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
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 his 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 Tile 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 unnioveably 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 subjectsi and let such as would be thought most loyal subjects, evidence it by their awful and religious fear of God.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering
wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffers/or it, ye take it patiently: this is acceptable with God.
Observe here, 1. The order and method of our apostle in the exhortations given to christians in this epistle: he first excites them to 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 are 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 their 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 for their evil deeds. Though to suffer patiently when we suffer justly is praise-worthy, yet not comparable with the praise of suffering patiently when we suffer unjustly. To do well, and then to suffer patiently, as for illdoing, will meet with a gracious, yea, with a glorious reward. What glory is it, if, when ye be buffetedfor 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.
21 For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Observe here, two farther arguments to excite and move christians to patience under unjust sufferings. ?. Hereunto, says the apostle, were ye called, that is, by your profession of christianity: religion obliges you to suffer, and 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 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 follara 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.
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
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, bat satisfactory; he did not only suffer patiently, but meritoriously; He his own self bare oar sins in his own body upon the tree. Note here, 1. What was borne, omr si-w, that i«, the guilt and punishment of our sis. 2. Who bare it, Christ his own self This imports, I. The singularity of his sufferings, he had no partner or sharer with turn 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