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example of the Lord Jesus, and the greatness of their engagement to follow him.
In the two first verses, we have the infcription and salutation, in the usual style of the apostolic epistles.
The inscription hath the author and the address, from whom, and to whom. The author of this epistle is designed by his name, Peter, and his calling, an Apostle.
We shall not infist upon his name, that it was imposed by Chrift, and what is its signification; this the Evangelists teach us, St John i. 42. St Matt. xvi. 18. &c.
By that which is spoken of him in divers passages of the Gospel, he is very remarkable amongst the Apostles, both for his graces and his failings; eminent in zeal and courage ; yet ftumbling oft in his forwardness, and once grossly falling : And these by the providence of God being recorded in Scripture, give a check to the excess of Rome's conceit concerning this Apoftle. Their exiolling and exalting him above the rest, is not for his cause, and much less to the honour of his Lord and Master Jesus Christ, for he is injured and dishonoured by it; but it is in favour of themselves, as Alexander distinguished his two friends, that the one was a friend of Alexander, the other a friend of the King. That preferment they give this Apostle, is not in good will to Peter, but in the desire of Primacy. But whatsoever he was, they would be much in pain to prove Rome's right to it by succession. And if ever it had any such right, we may confidently say, it has forfeited it long ago, by departing from St Peter's footsteps, and from his • faith, and retaining too much those things wherein he was faulty, namely,
His unwillingness to hear of, and consent to Christ's fufferings,—his Master Spare thyself, or Far be it from tbee,- in those they are like him: For thus they would disburden and exempt the Church from the Cross, from the real cross of afflictions, and, instead
of that, have nothing but painted, or carved, or gilded crosses; these they are content to embrace, and worship too, but cannot endure to hear of the other, Initead of the cross of affliction, they make the crown or mitre the badge of their church, and will have it known by prosperity and outward pomp, and so turn the church militant into the church triumphant, not confidering that it is Babylon's voice, not the church's, I sit as a queen, and all see no forrow.
Again, they are like him in his laying on the mount at Christ's Transfiguration, when he knew not what he said, It is good to be here : So they have little of the true glory of Christ, but the false glory of that monarchy on their seven hills, It is good to be here, say they.
Again, in their undue striking with the sword, not the enemies, as he, but the faithful friends and servants of Jesus Christ. But to proceed,
We fee here Peter's office or title, an Apostle not chief Bishop. Some in their glossing have been so impudent as to add that beside the text; though chap. v. 4. he gives that title to Christ alone, and to himself only fellow Elder, and here, not Prince of the Apostles, but an apofile, restored and re-established after his fall, by repentance, and by Christ himself after his own death and resurrection, John xxi. Thus we have in our Apostle a fingular instance of human frailty on the one side, and of the sweetness of di. vine grace on the other. Free, and rich grace it is indeed, that forgives and swallows up multitudes of sins, of greatest fins, not only fins before converfion, as to St Paul, but foul offences committed after converfion, as to David, avd to this Apostle ; not only once raising them from the dead, but when they fall, stretching out the same hand, and raising them again, and restoring them to their station, and comforting them in it by his free Spirit, as David prays. Not only to cleanse polluted clay, but to work it into vessels of honour, yea of the most defiled shape to make the most refined vessels, not vessels of honour of
the lowest fort, but for the highest and most honourable services, vessels to bear his own precious Name to the nations; making the most unworthy and the most unfit, fit by his grace to be his messengers.
Of Jesus Christ.] Both as the Beginning and End of his apoftleship, as Christ is called Alpha and Omega, Rev. & II. chosen and called by him, and called to this, to preach him, and salvation wrought by him.
Apostle of Jesus Christ.] Sent by him, and the meffage no other but his Name, to make that known. And what this apostleship was then, after some extraordinary way, befitting these first times of the gospel, that the ministry of the word in ordinary is now, and therefore an employment of more difficulty and excellency than is usually conceived by many, not only of those that look upon it, but even of those that are exercised in it, to be ambassadors for the greatest of Kings, and upon no mean employment, that great treaty of peace and reconcilement betwixt Him and mankind, 2 Cor. v. 20.
This Epistle is directed to the elect, who are descri. bed here, by their temporal and by their spiritual conditions. The first hath very much dignity and comfort in it; but the other hath neither, but rather the contrary of both : And therefore the Apostle, intending their comfort, mentions the one but in passing, to signify to whom particularly he sent his Epistle. But the other is that which he would have their thoughts dwell upon, and therefore he prosecutes it in his following discourse. And if we look to the order of the words, their temporal condition is but interjected; for it is said, to the Elect first, and then to the Strangers scattered, &c. And he would have this as it were drowned in the other, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
That those dispersed strangers that dwelt in the countries here named, were Jews, appears, if we look to the foregoing Epiftle, where the same word is used,
and expressly appropriated to the Jews, St James i. 1. And Gal. ii. St Peter is called an Apostle of the circunicihon, as exercising his apostleship molt towards them; and there is in some passages of the Epistle somewhat, that, though belonging to all Christians, yet hath, in the strain and way of expression, a particular fitness to the believing Jews, as being particularly verified in them which was spoken of their nation, chap. ii. ver. 9, Io.
Some argue from the name, strangers, that the Gentiles are here meant, which seems not to be: For profelyte Gentiles were indeed called strangers in Jerusalem, and by the Jews. But were not the Jews strangers in these places, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Atia and Bithynia ? Not strangers dwelling together in a profperous flouritising condition, as a well planted colony, but strangers of the dispersion, scattered to and fro; and their dispersion was partly, first by the Assyrian captivity, and after that by the Babylonilh, and by the invasion of the Romans ; And it might be in these very times increased by the believing Jews flying from the hatred and persecution that was raised against them at home.
These places here mentioned, through which they were difperfed, are all in Asia. So Alia here is Afia the lefler. Where it is to be observed, that some of these who heard St Peter, Acts ii. are said to be of those regions. And if any of those then converted were amongst these dispersed, the comfort was no doubt the more grateful from the hand of the fame Apostle by whom they were first converted; but this is only conjecture. Though divine truths are to be received equally from every minifter alike, yet it must be acknowledged, that there is something (we know not what to call it) of a more acceptable reception of those who at firít were the means of bringing men to God, than of others; like the opinion some have of phylicians whom they love. The Apostle comforts these strangers of this dis
persion perfion by the spiritual union which they obtained by effectual calling, and so calls off their eyes from their outward, dispersed and despised condition, to look above that, as high as the spring of their happiness, the free love and election of God. Scattered in the countries, and yet gathered in God's election, chosen or picked out ; ftrangers to men amongst whom they dwelt, but known and foreknown to God; removed from their own country, to which men have naturally an unalterable affection, but made beirs of a better, as follows ver. 3, 4. and having within them the evidence both of eternal election, and that expected salvation, the Spirit of Holiness, ver. 2. At the best a Chriftian is but a stranger here, set him where you will, as our Apostle teacherh after: And it is his privilege that he is To; and when he thinks not so, he forgets and disparages himself, and descends far below his quality, when he is much taken with any thing in this place of his exile.
But this is the wisdom of a Christian, when he can solace himself against the meanness of his outward condition, and any kind of discomfort attending it, with the comfortable assurance of the love of God, that he hath called him to holiness, given him some measure of it, and an endeavour after more ; and by this may he conclude, that he hath ordained him unto salvation. If either he is a stranger where he lives, or as a stranger deserted of his friends, and very near stripped of all outward comforts; yet may he rejoice in this, that the eternal unchangeable love of God, that is from everlasting to everlasting, is sealed to his soul. And O! what will it avail a man to be compassed about with the favour of the world, to fit unmolested in his own home and possessions, and to have them very great and pleasant, to be well monied, and landed, and befriended, and yet estranged and severed from God, not having any token of his special love?
To the Elect.] The Apostle here denominates all the Christians to whom he writes, by the condition of