The Apostle, after opening his Epistle with Salutation, immediately establisheth the fundamental Truth of the Covenant in Christ, and breaks out into an Hymn of Praise for the Divine Love. He shews, that Redemption by Christ is nothing new. He dwells most delightfully on the infinite Preciousness of Christ's Blood; and finisheth this first Chapter with an affectionate Exhortation.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
Nothing can be more proper than the Apostle's putting his name and office, and the glorious Person's authority from whom he received his Apostleship, at the opening of this Epistle. This puts an end to all dispute. For when we read the divine truths contained in those writings, the mind is immediately directed to enquire from whom, and by what authority are these things said? Here is at once the answer. It is Peter, the Apostle, and especially called to the office of an Apostle by Christ himself.
The persons to whom Peter (directed by the Holy Ghost writes, are the strangers, meaning God's Israel, scattered as God's Israel are scattered throughout the earth, that they may be gathered: Compare Jeremiah 32:37-44 with Genesis 49:10, with John 11:52. And these several provinces of proconsular Asia, were intended to take in and comprise all the places where the Lord had a people. See Matthew 24:31. Reader! pause and consider. Is not this precious book of God intended for all strangers by nature to the covenant of promise, who from everlasting were given of the Father to the Son, redeemed by Christ in the time-state of the Church, and through the Spirit are brought nigh by the blood of Christ? Ephesians 2:11-13
Do they not prove their interest in it, by the sweet teaching and application of it to their own state and circumstances? If all the children are to be taught of God, and from hence a child of God receives instruction, can anything be higher, in proof, both that they are children, and herein learn divine teaching? Isaiah 54:13.
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Reader! the oftener I read this precious verse, the more my soul becomes impressed with the sublime truths contained in it. Was there ever a form of words chosen, or can be chosen, to express the plainest and most palpable truths by, than is here used; both to shew and manifest the existence of the three distinct personalities of the Godhead, and their distinct office-characters, as revealed to the Church of God in Christ? What can more fully prove the joint operation of the Holy Three in One, by way of defining their distinct personality; and, at the same time, what more fully shew their oneness in all the essential nature and design, and in their merciful tendencies to the Church? Let us briefly consider each.
Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. This foreknowledge doth not simply mean that divine perfection which comprehends an intimate acquaintance with all things, and which hath relation to all that is past, present, and future; but fore-appointment, choice, election, purpose, will, and pleasure. And therefore hath a special reference to what is uniformly ascribed, throughout the whole scriptures, to the personal act of God the Father, in the economy of grace. The Apostle Paul hath a similar phrase, when speaking with peculiar respect to the personal act of God the Father, he ascribes the election of the Church of God in Christ to him. According (saith he) as he hath chosen the Church in him before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4
The next act of grace the Apostle takes notice of is in the same direct reference to the Person of God the Holy Ghost: Through sanctification of the Spirit. Here is evidently included the gracious work of the Holy Ghost, under all the branches of his sovereign power, in regeneration; and the whole blessings of spiritual life arising out of it. And, in this distinct agency of the Holy Ghost, the Person, and Godhead of the Lord the Spirit, flowing from the same love and complacency to the Church as the Father, are equally and expressly ascribed to Him, as his own free, gracious, and sovereign acts.
The third enumeration of grace is in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, under the two great branches of his love to his Church, namely, his obedience, and his death, which the Apostle names by the words, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Some have ventured to make the application of this obedience, as if was meant the obedience of Christ's people. But not to mention that all the obedience of creatures are but effects of grace, and not in any part the cause of salvation; how highly unsuitable and improper would it be, to introduce anything belonging to the creature, in the midst of those high and distinguishing acts of sovereign grace and mercy, which belong only to God, and which God in his threefold character of Person hath shewn the Church? Surely nothing can be more plain and self-evident, than that the Lord the Spirit, by his servant the Apostle, is here declaring to the Church the foundation truth of our holy faith, of the existence of the Three Persons in the Godhead; and that by these distinct acts of grace, they are known in the Church: and, that they have mutually entered into this Covenant-engagement with each other, for the accomplishment of those gracious works to the Church. And hence, the benediction which follows comes from those holy Persons unitedly; which, if the obedience of the creature was admitted between, would render improper, grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.
If the Reader will indulge me one moment, to offer a short reflection by the way, as we go, I would say, on this blessed verse of God by the Apostle, (which is an epitome, or compendium of all the precious things of our holy faith;) what a full and complete provision is here at once made, by and in the Persons of the Godhead themselves, for the present, and everlasting security and welfare of the whole Church of God? The Father's choice, in which there can be no change. The Son's obedience and blood, to which there can be nothing added, and is of the same everlasting efficacy, yesterday, and today, and forever. And the Holy Ghost's regenerating, sanctifying grace, renewing and making holy, and eternally keeping so, by which the chosen in Christ are blessed in time, and blessed to all eternity! Oh! the preciousness of this Scripture!
And, what a miserable going off from this everlasting Covenant, which is ordered in all things and sure, must that be, which some men are so fond of, but which none of them ever found could make happy; that these grand sources, act but as procuring causes, to bring men into an ability of doing somewhat towards their own salvation; that their obedience, joined to the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, may become the united cause of their acceptance. And thus, they make no more of the great and finished salvation of Christ, the regeneration of the heart by the Holy Ghost, and the everlasting love of the Father in the choice of the Church, to be holy, and without blame before him in love; than that of vamping and brushing up the old nature anew, and sending it forth a second time, at a peradventure, that man's free will may join God's grace, and so the first disobedience of man by the fall, be repaired by the after good behavior of the sinner; and Christ and he share the merits jointly together, of eternal life and salvation? Reader! what think you of this? Would you adventure your soul upon it? Would you think such a righteousness as this safe to enter eternity with? Would you go forth at the call of God into the eternal world with a covering so flimsy? Reader! I know not what your views are: but I bless God that I have not so learned Christ. But in how many hearts such an error reigns, in how many congregations such an error is taught in this awful day, I leave with the Lord. Sufficient be it for me, to bear, thus publicly, my testimony against it.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
I beg the Reader to observe, how the mind of the Apostle was carried out, in consequence of what he had just before said. No sooner doth he contemplate the elect of God, and the sanctified by the Spirit, and the justified in the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; but he falls a blessing God and the Father, yea, the whole Persons of the Godhead, for having so blessed the Church in Christ with such abundant mercy and grace. The soul of Peter could not contain himself, in the view of such unspeakable goodness. His heart, like Elihu, wanted vent, Job 32:19. Since God had so blessed the Church, Peter called upon every heart to bless God. The same is remarkable of Paul, in the opening of his Epistle, Ephesians 1:3
And, let the Reader further remark, how sweetly the Apostle dwells upon the blessed work of regeneration, by which the child of God is brought into the personal enjoyment of all the privileges, both of election and redemption. Peter calls it God's abundant mercy. And very sure, it may well be called so. For abounding must be that grace, which, when in the Adam-nature of sin our souls lay dead, as to our own view, we were without God, and without hope in the world; then, to be quickened together with Christ, and begotten to this lively hope, and to such an inheritance. What but grace, yea, abundant grace, could have given birth to such mercy
I will detain the Reader with one observation more, on these verses, respecting the inheritance. Not so much to notice the nature of this inheritance itself, or the properties of it; though these things might be, and indeed, under grace would be both profitable and delightful to meditate upon, being said to be incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away; but I pass by these things for the present, the rather to call the Reader to that part of the Apostle's words, wherein he saith, that this inheritance is reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready to he repealed in the last time. There appears to be so much sweetness, so much love and grace manifested by God the Father, to the persons of his people, in this reserving of the inheritance for them, that I do beg the indulgence of a few moments, to state the subject as it strikes me.
And, first. Nothing can be more plain and clear, from what is here said by the Apostle, than that He who so graciously elected their persons, as graciously appointed their inheritance. And hence one of those holy men of old, who knew his right in it, as if conscious that the one arose out of the other, blessedly, and thankfully said: The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage, Psalms 16:5-6
Secondly. This inheritance is reserved, and reserved in heaven for you, and you yourself are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation; and this is always ready to be revealed, when your turn comes, even if it be in the last time. Reader! behold here, what an accumulation of mercies are heaped up, one upon another, more preciously piled than all the gold of the miser. Here is the security of the inheritance, and the security of the owner; God himself becomes the garrison to defend both. And, whatever ages, or generations the Lord hath appointed to run out before you, for whom his grace hath designed this mansion, shall come, none shall have it, for it is reserved for you. He that chose you, at the same time chose your inheritance in Christ yea, Christ himself. And, therefore, as Christ saith: Let no man take your crown! that is, no man shall, Revelation 3:11. Oh! the unspeakable blessedness contained in such a view founded in such a will as God's election-will, secured in such a purpose as God's finished redemption-purpose in Christ, and reserved in such an unalienable reservation as the being kept by the power of God the Spirit's grace, through faith unto salvation.
Reader! oh! beg for grace, rightly to prize your mercies. From whence do they all flow? Peter answers: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. How are they reserved? Peter again replies: They are reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation. Who secures them? God himself. For it is by the power of God both the person and the inheritance are kept. And, it is always to be revealed: for when Christ who is our life shall appear, then will the Church, in every individual of her members, appear with him in glory. And what is it but this, which in the present time-state of the Church, hath reserved the Lord's remnant in the earth, according to the election of grace? Romans 11:5.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Wherein ye greatly rejoice; that is, in the sure prospect which ye have of possession, yea, even now, in the actual enjoyment by faith, see Ephesians 2:6, of this promised inheritance, both by gift, and by purchase. And, though now sometimes hard put to it, by the temptations, and trials of Satan and the world, heaviness is induced; yet the consciousness, that the issue is not doubtful, but sure victory over all must be the end, bears the soul up in the strength and grace of Christ Jesus.
I beg the Reader not to overlook what the Holy Ghost saith on this subject, (for it is a blessed testimony), concerning the trial of faith, in the children of God; that it is more precious than of gold that perisheth. It is a sweet comparison, and most wisely chosen, to shew the superiority of faith to gold. For though gold, if it be pure gold, when put into the hottest fire, will lose nothing, and come out the brighter; yet it will gain nothing by the process. The same quantity thrown into the furnace, it will be well if it come out, more it cannot. But not so by faith. True faith, the faith of God's elect, will be increased tenfold by the trial; and the oftener it is tried, the greater both in quantity and in quality, it will become. Let the Reader attend to this distinction, and learn to bless God the Holy Ghost for so gracious a testimony. And if he be a child of God, let him learn moreover, the great grace and condescension of a faithful God in Christ, in bringing him to such trials, My Brother! Be assured of this one most certain truth: The Lord can never try your faith, but he affords you thereby an opportunity, both to try, and to prove his love and faithfulness. David knew this so well, that he cried out, under his sharp exercises: I know, 0 Lord, that thy judgments are right; and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me, Psalms 119:75. And you cannot but know, that every skirmish with the foe, the Lord designs for your comfort, and his own glory. Sometimes by enabling you to resist the devil, you are led to see, that he flees from you. Sometimes, when he comes in like a flood, you discover Christ's strength made perfect in your weakness; and the Lord the Spirit lifts up Christ a standard against him, Isaiah 59:19. And even in those fiery darts of his which wound, and when in grappling with the foe, for the time the poor buffeted soul seems to give way, and fall under; even then, the soul, which is strong in the faith, shouts victory in the blood of the Lamb, and cries out, even as he falls: Rejoice not against me, 0 mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me, Micah 5:7-8. Oh! it is blessed, it is precious, yea, much more precious than of gold that perisheth, when faith is tried, though with tire. For the child of God is an infinite gainer, and the Lord God of his tried child will make it ultimately appear in the end, that his Almighty hand was in it, when it is found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
These are very sweet verses. The persons to whom Peter wrote, had never seen Christ's face in the flesh; and yet they loved him, believed in him, and rejoiced in him, as their hope of glory. And the Apostle saith, that by virtue of this inwrought faith, they did now, in the present life, receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls. The Apostle talks of an absolute, immediate possession. They did, as the Holy Ghost declares the Old Testament saints did, by faith obtain a good report; and proved that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1-2. They are said t, receiving the end of their faith, not as if to receive it another day. They are now, to all intents and purposes, in possession. They realize Christ, live upon Christ, enjoy Christ. All their views of Christ are full of glory. Reader! bring this doctrine home, and it is as much ours now, as it was believers' then, if so be our faith is of the same operation of the Spirit Of God, as their's. We have never seen Christ in the flesh. But we have seen more. Christ's returned to glory, and God the Holy Ghost, according to Christ's most sure promise, come down. And what is the effect? He hath given us to believe the record which God hath given of his Son, 1 John 5:10. And, doth not He who gives his people grace to believe the record, give with it the blessed fruits and effects also? Doth not God) sometimes work in the hearts of his redeemed, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, in the certainty of that glory, which shall be revealed? It is unspeakable, for their souls are sometimes so elevated with it, as for a while to be lifted up above themselves, above sin, sorrow, death, and Satan, that, like Paul, they hardly know whether in the body or out of it. And it is full of glory, for it is glory itself by anticipation. And why should it be thought incredible for the Lord at times to bless New Testament saints, less than He did Old Testament believers? Let those men, who would tempt us to alter scripture, and would teach us to call Christ's salvation not finished, abridge these enjoyments in themselves as they may; but let not the faithful in Christ Jesus be led away by such error, and fall from their own stedfastness. If the peace of God be a peace that passeth all understanding; so is the end of faith in believing, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. And, if the Almighty Giver of faith be, as He calls himself, the Rewarder of faith: Hebrews 11:6, here is the present reward as a pledge and earnest of the sure glory that follows; now receiving (mark the word, not to be received, but now receiving) the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (11) Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (12) Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Reader! pray observe, what an honorable testimony the Holy Ghost here gives to the Prophets, for their diligent search and enquiries after Christ and his salvation. And yet still more observe, how, and by what means, they were enabled so to do; namely, by the Spirit of Christ which was in them. Oh! the preciousness of this testimony of God the Holy Ghost, to the Godhead of Christ! We can never be sufficiently thankful to the Lord the Spirit, for such tokens of his love, By his servant Peter, in this most blessed passage, and by a similar one in the third Chapter of this same Epistle, we have a double testimony of Christ's personal ministry, in those first ages of the Church. Here, it is said, that when the Prophets were searching, and enquiring diligently, concerning the grace that should come unto the Church, in the latter day dispensation; the Spirit of Christ was in them. And there, it is said (1 Peter 3:19-20), that it was His Spirit which went and preached unto the spirits in prison, in the days of Noah. From both which passages nothing can be more plain, than that it was Christ, both in the Prophets, and in Noah, which wrought in the acts of those ministries. Christ's Spirit in the Prophets, and in Noah. And as Stephen, when full of the Holy Ghost, explained in like manner, of the ministry of Moses. This is He (said Stephen speaking of Christ) that was in the Church in the wilderness, with the angel which spoke to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us, Acts 7:55-56; Acts 7:55-56. Reader! in the view of such palpable testimonies to the Godhead, and glory of the Son of God, are you astonished at that is going on around you, in marking the signs of the times, in the present Christ - despising generation? So am not I. By this same Apostle, the Holy Ghost foretold the Church to expect it. There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, 2 Peter 2:1 etc. And, by another Apostle, the Holy Ghost hath taught the Church how to explain the cause. For there are certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained to this condemnation. Mark, that Jude 1:4 there needs no Comment.
Let the Reader further observe, on this passage of Peter, that the Spirit of Christ by the Prophets, marked out two great volumes in the history of Christ, by which his Person and Offices should be known; namely, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow. On these, in proof, I need not dwell; for the Old Testament in predicting, and the New Testament in recording, their accomplishment, are full in testimony. But I pray the Reader to notice, with particular attention, what is added, in proof of the Lord's mercy over his Church, that the ministry of those holy men, with all their diligence and earnestness, was not unto themselves, but unto us. Not that they themselves were altogether ignorant of the Person of Christ, and of both his sufferings and glory: For all that died in faith, saw, with less or more clear view, the day of Christ, with Abraham afar rejoiced, and were glad. But they had a revelation, that to us they ministered, meaning, the accomplishment would be in the fulness of time. And the Gospel is therefore said to be preached, with the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven; meaning, that the Lord the Spirit presides over his Church and ministry, and when he is pleased to bless his word to the people, he speaks to them by his inward grace, while their ears are engaged, in attending the outward word, as it is said, Acts 10:44. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Concerning the desire of Angels for information, and their ministry, I have already dwelt on this subject, Hebrews 2:17, to which I refer.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the
Re 1-22, and live upon that inheritance which is Christ himself, now by faith, as ere long you will in full fruition. And as all communications from the Lord towards you, are in a way of grace, and for the glory of his grace, and all is from the Lord himself, to himself; see that that life of grace is daily maintained, and kept up, and carried on, by constant communications from him. And, Reader! do observe, how the Holy Ghost, by his servant, points out the method by which this life is preserved. As he which hath called you, is holy; so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. God's call is to holiness. And God's grace works in us this holiness in Christ, and from Christ. And hence, when he saith, be ye holy, for I am holy; this is not a bare precept, but the communication of grace enabling. He wills his people, into what He hath himself appointed. He worketh them, both to will, and to do of his pleasure. His grace is to this express purpose. And it is to the praise of the glory of his grace, when this is done. And which proves, that the work is his grace, and not man's labors, or man's merit; for then it could not be in either sense, to the praise of his grace. And, as it is on earth in, grace; so hereafter in heaven in glory, the final and full presentation of the Church is to himself, and for himself, to be to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved! Oh! the unspeakable riches of God in Christ! See a similar precept of Christ, John 15:4 and Commentary.
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (18) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (21) Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (22) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. (24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
I include the whole of what remained in the Chapter after the former observations, having already far exceeded my limits to a Poor Man's Commentary. And indeed, what the Holy Ghost hath here so blessedly set forth, though if followed up to the full, would furnish many volumes, yet may be comprized, in the leading features of it, within a small compass.
We have, first, the Church admonished, in their calling on the Father to keep in remembrance, in all their approaches to the throne, their safety and security in Christ in whom God beholds the Church, and accepts the Church, as freely, fully, and everlastingly justified in Christ; and as holy in Christ, without blame before him in love. And though the Father, without respect of persons, as they are in themselves, and considered without an eye to Chris t, judged according to every man's work; yet the chosen in Christ by the Father is a personal thing; and God hath respect to his dear Son, and views the persons of his redeemed in Him. Yea, Christ himself was fore-ordained for this express end, and set forth by the Father, a propitiation through faith in his blood. Pass, therefore, saith the Apostle, the time of your sojourning here in fear, that is, not in the bondage fear of servants, but the dutiful fear of children, Romans 8:15-17
Secondly. Lose not sight of your oneness and interest in Christ, by which ye are not only betrothed to Him forever, and that before the foundation of the world; but also have been redeemed by him, from the Adam-state of sin in which ye were involved by nature, during this time-state of the Church. And as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as the contemptible idols of carnal men, silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot; see to it, that this knowledge, and this conviction, be productive of all the blessed effects, in living upon Christ, walking with Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and making Him what God hath made him to the Church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. Reader! Mark the very sweet words of God the Holy Ghost on this vast subject, and observe, how very strong the Lord hath worded the faith of them that believe in God by Him, that your faith and hope might be in God. Not that your faith and hope might be in your own improvements. Not in a work wrought in you, but for you; even centering both faith and hope in God. Oh! how sweet, when Christ is made in the believer's view as set forth in God's; and when received by him, as he is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, that, according as it is written, he that glorieth let him glory only in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 1:30
Thirdly. As in all the other parts of our interest in the covenant of grace, so here eminently the Church is taught her blessedness in the new-birth, from the power of God the Holy Ghost, which, in common with the electing-love of the Father, and the redeeming love of the Son, brings the people of God into the enjoyment of all their mercies, being born of that incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. And, hence, amidst all the mutable circumstances of our sinful, fallen, dying nature, which, like grass, is but of momentary continuance; this spiritual birth everlastingly secures the being, and well-being of all Christ's redeemed. They are born again, their adoption-character is thereby proved; and they are manifested to be the heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Oh! the preciousness of these divine truths! Oh! the unspeakable mercy, when God hath revealed them to his people by the Spirit!
Surely we have reason to bless God for the dispersion of his people, in that so much grace is manifested, and hath been manifested in their recovery. All which proves the original and eternal election of the Church by God the Father, the purchase of their redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, and their regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Ghost. And that sweet promise is confirmed in every instance of a child of God brought back by sovereign grace, Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel, will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock!
And, Reader! shall we not both join the Apostle's hymn, in the conscious recovery of our poor fallen nature, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and in the assurance of that inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, to which all his redeemed are begotten, and which is reserved for them in heaven, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; shall we not bless God for his unspeakable gift! And though in the way to our possession of this secured inheritance, there is a needs-be to meet with manifold temptations, yet, even these temptations, under divine grace, minister but to greater glory; and every exercise of faith becomes more precious than gold that perisheth!
Precious Jesus thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. And though we see thee not by sight, yet do thy people love thee, the fairest and the loveliest of ten thousand. Thy salvation, the Prophets spoke of, guided by thy Spirit within them. Thy finished redemption, the Holy Ghost hath given thy Church grace to believe, in the preaching of the Gospel, in thy presence and power, sent down from heaven. And while angels desire to look into these things, by way of discovery of their wonderful nature and extent, it is the unspeakable happiness of thy people to be taught of God, and to believe in God, that their faith and hope might be in God.
Oh! Lord the Spirit! thou who hast given to thy Church this sweet scripture, give to them the knowledge and apprehension of all its blessed contents in their hearts. And, since, by thy sovereign work of regeneration, thy people are born again, and brought into the knowledge and love of God in Christ, give them also grace to live in the daily enjoyment of their high privileges. May they have such a daily sense of the electing love of God, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the redeeming, cleansing, and renewing efficacy of the blood of Jesus, as to believing in the sweet communion and fellowship of the whole, as to be found, unto the praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.