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them as evil doers. Note, 2. That a good conscience, accompanied with a good conversation, is the most effectual mean to stop the mouth of slander, and to put such as accuse us falsely, to shame. Note, 3. That when sufferings and persecutions do come, after all, the consideration that we suffer not for evil, but for well-doing, will he a sufficient support and consolation to us. It is better, if God will have us suffer, that it be for wett-doing; better for us, but worse for our persecutors; for now the body only suffers, while the soul is free.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the un just, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
These words are brought in as a strong argument, why christians that suffer wrongfully should bear it patiently; it was our Saviour's own case; he that had perfect innocency and unspotted righteousness, suffered in the severest manner, for us that were unrighteous, that he might reconcile us to God, being pat to death in theflesh, that is, in our human nature, but quickened by the Spirit, or raised to life again by the power of his godhead; it doth therefore well become all his followers cheerfully to undergo all manner of sufferings for him, which they meet with in their duty to him. Note here, 1'. Christ did not barely suffer for our good, but he suffered in our stead: he is not only said to suffer for us, but to suffer for our sins, that is, the punishment of our sins; for no man was ever said to suffer for sin that did not undergo and endure the punishment of sin. As the sinoffering under the law is called an offering for sin, because it did expiate the guilt of sin, by dying in the place and stead of the offender; in like manner, when the death of Christ is called an offering for sin, what can it import, but that he suffered to make atonement for sin in our place and stead? The just for the unjust; if these words do not imply the substitution of Christ as our surety, and his suffering the punishment due to our sins, what words can express it? Note, 2. That the great end of Christ's bitter death and bloody sufferings, was to bring all those for whom he died unto God; now Christ's bringing us to God imports our apostasy from him, and our inability to return to him; that sin unsatisfied for, which was the great bar to keep us from him,
is mercifully removed by him, and that ouchief happiness consists in the enjoyment' of him.
— Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison: 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.
As if St. Peter had said, " Though Christ suffered for our sins, and was put to death in his human nature, or flesh, yet he was quickened and made alive by t1ie Spirit, in which, or by which Spirit, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which in the days of Noah were hardened in sin and disobedience, whilst the long-suffering of God endured them, and waited for their repentance no less than an hundred and twenty years, while the ark was making and preparing, and Noah preaching to them; yet so impenitent were they to the very last, that only eight were saved in the ark." Note here, 1. That the old world before the flood were in prison whilst here on earth, being in bondage and captivity to sin and Satan, held in the chains of their lusts, and in the bonds of their iniquity; such as are in bondage to sin, are captives in Satan's prison: the old world also was in prison whilst on earth, as having received from God the sentence of destruction, and were reserved as in prison, against the day of slaughter, if they repented not within 120 years. Note, 2. That Christ by his Spirit did preach to the old world in the ministry of his prophets, Enoch and Noah; and his Spirit did chide with them and reprove them, in order to their bringing to repentance. Note, 3. That those refractory and hardened sinners, for despising the offers of grace made to them, were for their disobedience clapped up in the prison of hell, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; such as were cast into prison in Noah's time, were all fast in St. Peter's time: there is no picking the locks of hell gates, no breaking through the walls of the fiery Tophet; bell has a door to take in, but none to let out . Note, 4. That though Christ by his Spirit preached to the spirits in prison, yet it was not when they were in prison, I mean in the prison of hell, but when here on earth , there are no sermons in hell, no conditions of happiness proposed, no tenders of salvation propounded there; Christ preached to these prisoners to prevent their imprisonment, Christ preached to these men, who were now in prison, that they might not have been imprisoned. Note lastly, That the obstinate infidelity, and sottish stupidity, of the old world, was amazing, that after an hundred and twenty years' preaching, no more than eight persons should be persuaded into the belief of the world's destruction. From the beginning'.we find that the prophets of God had cause to complain that Jew have believed their report: do not the ministers of God now groan to God, th 11 they run in vain, and labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought? From the beginning it has been so. Lord! if thou honourestany of us with better success, and givest us to see the fruit of our labours in the lives of our people, help\» to set the crown of praise on the head of thine own grace, and say, Nun notis, Domine, non nobis, Sec. '' Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory."
21 The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Observe here, 1. The type and the antitype, the ark and baptism; their salvation from the deluge, by the ark, prefigureth our salvation from God's wrath by baptism. As all that were without the ark perished, and all within the ark were saved; so all that are ingrafted into Christ by faith, whereof baptism is a seal, are saved, whilst the unbelieving and unbaptized part of the world perish. Baptism is such a mean of spiritual salvation now, as the ark was of Noah's and his family's temporal salvation then: the like figure whereunto, baptism, now saveth us. Observe, 2. How our apostle expresses himself, and plainly declares what he means by that baptism which is saving; negatively, it is not the outward ceremony of sprinkling the face, or washing the body with water, that is saving, or any ways pleasing unto God, save only as it is an act and exercise of our obedience to his command and will; but positively, it is the answer of a good conscience towards God, that is, the faithful answer of a resolved soul in the cove
nant of baptism, who gives up himself to the obedience of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and renounces the world, the flesh, and the devil, this covenanting is the condition of salvation, and baptism but the sign. Learn hence, The outward baptism alone saves none, but the inward only; and the sign and singular effect of inward baptism, is the answer of a good conscience towards God. Yet must we not conclude, with the Anabaptists, from this text, that baptism can be of no saving advantage to infants, because they cannot at present make this answer of a good conscience: for in the same manner speaks St. Paul of circumcision, that the true circumcision before God is the inward circumcision of the heart and spirit, and not the outward circumcision of the flesh. But who dare argue from thence, that the Jewish infants, for want of the inward circumcision, must not be admitted to the outward r The argument is the very same: will you say that the answer of a good conscience is absolutely necessary, and expressly required, that baptism may be beneficial; therefore they only are to be baptized that can make this answer) The same may we say, that the inward circumcision of the heart was required as the only acceptable circumcision in the sight of God ; therefore they only are to be circumcised, who have this inward circumcision of the heart. But as the one was the will of God, so is the other. True indeed, The Jews did not admit proselytes to circumcision then, no more will we admit adult persons to baptism now, without the answer of a good conscience, or a solemn stipulation to be the Lord's for ever: but they admitted infants to circumcision without it; in like manner, the christian church now admits the children of christian parents to baptism, without any such answer made by them, but for them only.
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God ; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Our apostle having in the close of the former verse, spoken of the resurrection of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby, he makes mention in this verse, 1. Of his going into heaven, there to despatch all that remained to be done for the completing the salvation of his people. 2. He is here affirmed to be at God's,
right band. The right hand is the upper hand, the hand of honour; and the right hand is the hand of power ; accordingly Christ sitting at God's right hand, ai an enthroned king, imports sovereign honour and supreme power; and that God has exalted his Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to his kingdom in heaven. 3. It is asserted, that angels, authorities, and powers are made subject to him ; that is, our Jesus, in whom we hope, believe, and trust, is advanced in heaven to a pre-eminency above, and to a superiority over, all angels and celestial powers, waiting and expecting until all his enemies on earth become his footstool. For though his victory is yet incomplete and inconsummate, and we see not all things yet put under him, it may suffice at present that we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, and that's enough to show that the power of hi: enemies is broken; and that though they make some opposition still, yet it is to no purpose at all : for refusing to submit to his sceptre, they will fall b.y the rod of his strength. Angels and principalities in heaven, and all powers and potentates upon earth, being made subject unto him.
The argument which our apostle pursues io this chapter, is ihe same which he had prosecuted in the former. The first part of the chapter is exhortatory, urging all the professors of christianity to the love and practice of universal holiness and purity. The second part is consolatory, against persecutions and sufferings for the cause of Christ, which were then inevitably coming upon them from the enemies of christianity. The exhortations unto, and the arguments for, holiness, are many, contained in the first verses of this chapter, in which our apostle thus bespeaks them sj
FORASMUCH then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind : for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of Ai* time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
These words may be considered, 1. As an inference drawn from what the apostle had asserted in the foregoing chapter, namely, That Christ Jesus suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust; v. 18. Now, says the apostle, forasmuch as Christ has thus suffered for us, first, as our surety and representative, in a way of satisfaction; Secondly, as our pattern and example, in order to our imitation: let us arm our
selves with He same mind and re'solution, to be conformed to him in his death, dying to sin as he died for sin: for he that hath crucified the flesh, and mortified his corrupt nature, in imitation of Christ's suffering in our flesh and nature, that man hath ceased from sin, that is, from living unto sin, or serving sin any longer, but spends the remainder of his life wholly according to God's will, not according to his own or others' lustful desires and inclinations. 2. These words may be considered as an argument to excite christians to eschew evil and do good, which he had pressed upon them in the former chapter, from the example of Christ. And the force of the argument lies thus: "All christians should be armed with the same mind and resolution against sin, and for holiness, that Christ was. But Christ having suffered in the flesh for sin, and ceased from sin, lived in the Spirit unto God : therefore all christians should wholly endeavour all they can to cease from sin, and live no more to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, hanquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye runnot with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
Observe here, 1, That this epistle was written and directed, not only to the Jewish natives, but to the Gentile proselytes and converts; this is evident from the apostle's putting them in mind that there was a time, namely, before their conversion, whcn they wrought the .will of the Gentiles. Observe, 2. The black and dismal sins which the Gentiles were guilty of, and wallowed in, before their conversion to christianity, namely, all manner of sensuality, uncleanness, excess in drinking, revelling, banquetings and idolatries, joined with the rest of their abominations. Lord, how endearing our obligations, -who •aere sinners of the Gentiles, for calling us out of this darkness (worse than Egyptian) into marvellous light by the gospel. Observe, 3. The argument used to excite tliem to quit and abandon tlie fore-mentioned sins now in their converted state, which they had before indulged themselves in the practice of, in their heathen state: the time past may suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles; as if he had said, "Surely you have had enough, enough of sin, and too much, in your unregentxate stale; your lusts have taken up too much of your lives, and had too much of your love." Learn hence, That the true penitent, and sincere convert, is one that has had enough of sin, yea, more than enough: one moment's service of sin is more service than we owe it: we can never serve Christ too long, and our lusts too short a time. Learn, 2. That this consideration, how long some of us served sin before conversion, should be a forcible argument to excite and quicken us unto greater measures and degrees of holiness in our regenerate and converted state. Observe, 4. What usage such christians must expect from the men of the world, who come out from among them, and refuse to run any longer into the same excess of riot with them. I. They think it strange; they admire and wonder at them, as we do at strangers that come out of another country. And, 2. They speak evil of them, because they will not be as bad and as mad as themselves. They think it strange that you run not -with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. Learn hence, 1. That wicked men are excessively riotous, or that there is an excess of riot and sin, which wicked men upon all occasions run into. Learn, 2. That such men wonder and think it very strange, that good men are not as excessively riotous as themselves. 3. That because they will not so run, therefore they speak evil of them. Observe, lastly, The impartiality and severity of that account which the wicked men of the world must render to God, the universal Judge, for all their hard speeches which they have uttered against the righteous: Who shall give an account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. Note here, 1. There must and shall be a day of account: there roust be one, becauv there never yet was one \ there shall be one, because God has made man an accountable creature: he can give, and therefore he shall give, an account of his actions; for he has a principle of reason to know what he does, and a liberty of choice to govern himself, and a rule to direct him what to choose, and what to refuse; and consequently the actions, proceeding from linn, must and shall be accounted for by
him. Note, 2. That this account must be given to Christ, the supreme and universal Judge both of quick and dead: partly, as a fitting reward tor his great humiliation and sufferings; and, partly, that the world may see what a great and excellent Person he was, who came to visit them in great humility; and partly, to give advantage to the future judgment, in that God has appointed a man for our judge, who is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, one that is sensible of the follies, temptations, and infirmities, of mankind, and pities them, and will make favourable allowances for them; nay, one that is God as well as man, from whom we may expect all the goodness of a God, and all the tender compassion of a man, in their utmost perfection; so that no man need fear such a judge, who has not out-sinned the mercies of a God, and the tender compassions of a man; for if either God or man can help us, we are safe in that day, when we shall give ait account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
6 For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
By the dead here, some understand the Geniile world, dead in trespasses and sins, to whom the gospel was preached when they were thus spiritually dead and buried in sensuality, that they might judge and condemn, oppose and strive against, mortify and subdue, those sensual desires and carnal appetites which they indulged, whilst they lived as natural men; without the knowledge of God's will, and the assistance of his grace and Spirit: others do understand the words of such as are naturally dead, that the gospel was preached to them who were long since dead, even our forefathers, that lived and died before Christ's coming, and that they had the gospel preached to them, while they were alive, that so they might mortify all their sinful lusts and corrupt affections, and live new lives, according to the direction and command of God in his holy word. Learn hence, That the condition of men now living, and of those that lived heretofore in all ages, is one and the same, having the same pospel for substance preached to them, and accordingly the same duties of mortification and holiness required of them.
7 But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
These words are brought by our apostle as a fresh argument to persuade the christian Jews to the practice of sincere holiness: the end of all things, that is, of the Jewish state and polity, their city, their temple, and worship, is at hand, the fatal destruction of Jerusalem is now very near, therefore be ye sober and temperate in all things; watch, that the day of visitation overtake you not unawares, and pray for the averting of God's wrath, and that ye be not overwhelmed in it. Learn hence, That sobriety, watchfulness, and prayer, are very requisite and needful qualifications to prepare and fit persons for every coming and appearance of Christ to judgment; be it his particular coming to some, or his universal coming to all, at the end of the world.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
The next grace and virtue exhorted to, is that of charity, or mutual love amongst themselves: and observe with what special care and particular regard it is recommended to us, above all things: and note also the intense degree of it, it must not barely be charity, but fervent charity: Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves. Learn, That christians ought to take care, above all things, that their love to one another be sincere and fervent. But how may it be known to be such? Ans. If it be active and operative; if we love not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth; if it be not weakened by time; if it be not hindered by remoteness of place; if it be a sympathizing and compassionate love, a forbearing and forgiving love; then have we fervent charity among ourselves. Observe next, The argument or reason to enforce the duty; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. This may be understood two ways: 1. With respect to ourselves: charity, or true love to our brother, will cause us not strictly to take notice of, but silently to overlook and pass by, the faults and failings of others towards and against ourselves. 2. It will cover the sins of others from the eye of the world, and keep us from blazing abroad the infirmities of others, to their prejudice and
disgrace: it is both unwarrantable and unsafe to cover the sins of others, either by flattery or falsehood; but to cover a sin by charity, to conceal it from public notice, as a great piece of christian duty, unless when the concealing of it will do apparent mischief: love looks upon great wrongs as small, and small wrongs as none at all. He must have no friends that will have a friend with no fault, Prov. x. 12. Haired stirreth up strife, but love covercth all sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another, without grudging.
As a principal act and eminent exercise of charity, the apostle advises to use hospitality to their poor brethren, without grudgeing or murmuring at the charge: hospitality is a necessary, a commendable, and a commanded, duty; St. Paul requires, Rom. xii. 13. that -we be. given to hospitality. Observe farther, the apostle doth not barely say, use hospitality, but use it one to another: it is a mutual duty; whence it appears, that though hospitality towards the poor be a commanded duty, yet hospitality among the rich is no sin, but a duty likewise, to give reciprocal entertainments; for though our Saviour says, Luke xiv. 12. When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call not thy friends and rich neighbours; the prohibition is not absolute, he doth not forbid the inviting of the rich, but chargeth us not to forget the poor': we may treat both, if we have enough for both; but if not, what we have to spare must be for them that have nothing, not for them that have enough already, for we must prefer works of pious charity before acts of civil courtesy: Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
His next exhortation is, That they endedvour rightly to employ, and wisely to improve, their spiritual gifts, (as well as their temporal, mentioned in the foregoing verse,) which they had received for the good and benefit of others in their respective places in the church, looking upon themselves not as proprietors, but as stewards, of the various gifts bestowed upon them by the free favour of God, and of which they must give an impartial account. Learn hence, 1. That several men have their several gifts, as it pleaseth the gift-giving Spirit to give unto