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PA RT II,
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH.
OF THE SECOND GENERAL EPISTLE OF
I. Genuineness 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 Eusebius, 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 Epiştle, 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 Rome.
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 (b); 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.
SOME learned men have thought that the style of the second chapter of this Epistle is materially different from that of the other two chapters, and have therefore suspected its Genuineness. I must own that I observe no other difference than that which arises from the difference of the subjects. The subject of the second chapter may surely lead us to suppose, that the pen of the Apostle was guided by a higher degree of Inspiration than when writing in a didactic manner ; it is written with the animation and energy of the prophetic style ; but there does not appear to me to be any thing, either in phrase or sentiment, inconsistent with the acknowledged writings of St. Peter.
Bishop Sherlock was of opinion, that in this chapter St. Peter adopted the sentiments and language of some Jewish author, who had described the false teachers of his own times. This conjecture is entirely unsupported by antient authority, and it is in itself very highly improþable.
OF THE FIRST GENERAL EPISTLE OF
I. Genuineness of this Epistle.-II. The Persons to
whom it was addressed.—III. Its Date.--IV. Design and Substance of it.
1. CLEMENT of Rome and Polycarp refer to this Epistle; and Eusebius tells us that it was quoted by Papias. It is expressly mentioned by Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Dionysius of Alexandria ; and indeed the unanimous suffrage of antiquity attri
utes this Epistle to St. John the Ev List (a),
(a) Dr. Macknight, in his Preface to this Epistle, has shewn that there is a great similarity between St. John's Gospel and this Epistle, both in point of sentiment and expression.
II. THERE have been great doubts, both among the antients and the moderns, concerning the persons to whom it was addressed. Some have supposed that it was written to the inhabitants of Parthia, because St. John is said to have preached the Gospel in that country, but of this there is not sufficient evidence; others have supposed that it was addressed to the churches of Asia, and others, to the Christians of Judæa, because John had preached in both those countries; but as there is no expression of limitation in
any part of the Epistle, I am inclined to consider it as written to Christians in general, of every place, and of every denomination,
III. TAER E has also been considerable doubt concerning the date of this Epistle; some have supposed that it was written before, and others after, the destruction of Jerusalem. In the following passage,
“ It is the last time; and as we have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time (b),” the Apostle seems to allude to the approaching dissolution of the Jewish state, and to Christ's predictions (c) concerning the false teachers who were to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem; and
fb) C. 2. v. 18.
(c) Matt. . 24. V. 5; & 24.