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THE GOOD AND MEANS OF ESTABLISHMENT.
PREACHED AT STEPNEY, JANUARY 6, 1655.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."-1 PETER v. 10.
Some think these words are spoken in the way of a promise from God;* others think they are spoken in the way of a desire and prayer to God.† They are a promise, say some, because they are brought in to comfort and relieve these dispersed saints against the temptations of Satan and opposition of the world, which the apostle had mentioned in the former verses (8 and 9), as also because those words, “perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you,” are found in some books in the future tense of the indicative mood, to be read thus : “ Shall perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you;"I but I find the copies ordinarily to give them in the optative. Beza tells us that all our books, excepting three, do read these words in the optative mood.|| And Estius, though the vulgar latin renders them in the future tense of the indicative, saith that all such copies are of less credit, and that although the words should be in the future tense, it comes all to the same reckoning; forasmuch as the Hebrews, whom the New Testament follows much, do ordinarily put futures for optatives as well as for preceptives. So Num. xx. 17, we translate the words thus: “Let us, I pray thee, pass through thy country;" and
* Promissionem adjungit apostolus.-Salmeron, Grotius, Gerardus, Tirinus, Thom. Aquinus.
† Ad precationem se convertit apostolus.-Calvin, Beza, Piscator, H. Illiricus, Estius, Gomarus. Aretius.
1 Καταρτισει, “τηριξει, σθενωσει, θεμελιώσει.
ll Omnes nostri codices, tribus tamen exceptis, scripta hæc habent optandi modo.—Beza in loc.
In nonnullis quidem exemplaribus græcis verba sunt indicativa modi temporisque futuri, quem admodum in latinis, verum ea minus probatæ sunt fidei.Estius in loc.
yet the word in the Hebrew is in the future tense: “We will pass through,” &c.* So Jer. xl. 15, we read, “ Let me go, I pray thee, and I will smite Ishmael ;” and yet the word in the Hebrew is, “I will go and smite Ishmael.”+ So that according to the Hebrew, the future is ordinarily put for the optative in a way of desire and petition. But the words here used are in the optative mood, and therefore, by that argument, we cannot conclude these words to be spoken in the way of a promise. It is true, indeed, that they contain matter of much comfort and relief for those that suffer under the temptations of Satan or oppositions of the world, but so they do, also, though they be spoken in a way of prayer; and it is usual with the apostles to conclude their epistles with a short prayer, and that prayer with a doxology; and so doth the apostle here: “ The God of all grace, who hath called you, &c., perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you; to whom be glory for ever and ever:” a promise is not so concluded, but a prayer is.|| I conceive, therefore, that these words are spoken in way of a prayer; wherein we have,
First, The mercy, and the blessing prayed for.
First, As for the mercy and blessing prayed for; it is expressed in four words: perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you. Some think they are synonimous, all intending the same thing, the confirmation and perseverance of those dispersed christian Jews.g But though they may aim at the same general thing, yet there are several particulars under that general which the words seem to point at. The first word, which we render perfect, should, I think, be translated otherwise. It is the same word that is used Mact. iv. 21, and Mark i. 19, for mending of their nets; and the same that is used, Gal. vi. 1, “ You that are spiritual restore such an one with the spirit of meekness;" and it signifies such a restoring
Π75ps. Γιαρολευσομεθα δια της γης.-Septuagint. † 1983. Nopivoouai de.—Septuagint. Ibo nunc.—Montanus. - Καταρτισαι, στηριξαι, σθενωσαι, θεμελωσαι.
|| Postquam satis incubuit in monitiones nunc se ad precationem convertit, nam frustra in nerem fundetur doctrina nisi Deus per Spiritum suum operetur.Calvin in loc.
§ Quod pluribus verbis rem unam designat Petrus, nempe fidelium confirmationem, hoc ideo facit ut sciamus raræ esse difficultatis cursum nostrum persequi et proinde singulari Dei gratia opus esse.-Calvin in loc.
as is of unjointed members.* Now these christians being scattered, the apostle prays that God would please to joint them again. Thus the God of all grace, after you have suffered, and been shattered, bring you into order, restore and repair you. But suppose that God restore and mend us, yet we may fall again. True, but I do not only pray for you, saith Peter, that ye may be restored and mended, but that ye may be confirmed, so as ye may not fall away: “ The God of all grace stablish you also.” The word signifies to fasten, and confirm, and establish it so Rom. i. 11; 1 Thess. iii. 1, 2. But though we be so confirmed by the grace of God that we cannot fall away, yet we may be weak and labour under great infirmity. True, but “ I have prayed for
you may be strengthened also.”† But though we be strong and confirmed, so as we shall never fall quite away from grace, yet we may be unsettled. True, but I have not only prayed against your apostacy, but against your unsettlement: “ The God of all grace restore, stablish, strengthen and settle you,' even as the foundation of the house is settled. || So that he doth not only pray for these saints that they may be restored and put into joint, in opposition to their scattering, but for confirmation in opposition to apostacy, and for settlement in opposition to all unsteadfastness, and for strength of grace in opposition unto weakness, the cause and ground of all unsettledness. Now these graces he doth assure them of by divers arguments. Some drawn from the nature of God, he is the God of all grace; not of grace only, as the Syriac reads the words, omitting the word all, but he is the God of all grace: and therefore though you have need of much grace, yet you need not be discouraged, for the God whom you deal with is a God of all grace; and under this title have I prayed unto him for you. It is good closing with God in prayer by that title and attribute which is most suitable to our condition. Other arguments are drawn from the precedent work of God
* Significat ergo apostolus relam bonorum operum quam teximus facile ac cito in hac vita rumpi nisi accedat Dei katagiojos.-Gerard.
Significat enim katagToStiv, membra in corpore luxata reponere.— Ibid.
+ Etneočeov significat figere, firmitur statuere, Septuag. utuntur pro 3 y' stare fecit : quod alibi exponunt pro ornpeow, alibi pro orn.00, alibi pro pepaliw.
I Otvovv, significat roborare adevo valeo, opponitur a Jevela.
upon them: “ Who hath called you unto his eternal glory,” Now the gifts and calling of God are without repentance: “ Whom he hath called, them he hath also glorified.” And therefore seeing he hath called you, you may be assured that he will confirm, strengthen and settle you. God's calling grace doth assure us of his confirming grace;
“ He that hath called you unto eternal glory, even he (avloç, is emphatical, and omitted in the English to be read, thus, The God of all grace, who hath called you, &c.), he himself establish you," &c.* But our sufferings do still abound, for we are a dispersed people. Be it so, yet your sufferings are hut a modicum, a little, oliyor, both in regard of measure and time: and after you have thus suffered a little, and a little while, the God of all grace will restore, stablish, strengthen and settle you. This have I prayed for you. So that the doctrine from the verse is this:
I: is a great blessing of God, and worthy of all our prayer, to be established and settled in the truth and good ways of God. Settling grace and mercy, in opposition both to outward and inward trouble, is a great mercy, and well worth praying for.
It is a great mercy and blessing to be outwardly settled. The apostle speaks here in reference to that opposition and hatred which they met with from the world, in scattering them as a people and as a church; for saith he, verse 9, “ Be stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world :” as also in reference to those temptations of Satan which they laboured under; for saith he, verse 5, “ Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
, First, It is a great mercy for a nation and state to be settled.
Secondly, A mercy and great blessing for a church to be settled.
Thirdly, A great blessing and mercy for a particular soul to be settled in the good ways of God.
It is a great mercy and blessing, for a nation or kingdom
So that I say,
* Emphaticum quoque
illud quod in Græco textu hæc verba O de Otoç maons χαριθος, conjunguntur cum sequentibus αυτος καταρτισαι: Ostendit enim apostolus ex eodem gratiæ fonte et primam ad gloriam cælestem vocationem et ultimam hujus beneficii consummationem provenire.---Gerard.
to be in a settled state and condition, outwardly: for it is the mercy promised; and promised mercies are no small mercies. Now the Lord promiseth to his people, when he deals with them in a way of mercy, to settle and establish them, Jer. xxiv. 6, “ For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring then again to this land, and I will build them, and not pull them down, and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. So chap. xxxii. 37, “And I will cause them to dwell safely;" yea, vease 41, “I will rejoice over them, to do them goud; and I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart, and with my whole soul.” This also was that mercy which the Lord promised to David, 2 Sam. vii. 16, “But thine house, and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee, and thy throne shall be established for ever." And if ye look into 2 Chron. ix. 8, ye shall find, that this establishing of a nation or kingdom, is both a sign, and a fruit of God's love; “ Blessed be the Lord thy God," said the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, “ which delighteth in thee, to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God; because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them," &c. On the other side ; when God is angry with a people, then he pours a spirit of giddiness and perverseness on them, that they run to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are as the leaf shaken with every wind, 1 Kings xiv. 15, the Lord threatens Israel “ to smite them, as a reed is shaken in the water, because they had made them groves, provoking the Lord to anger.” A great judgment then it is, to be shaken like a reed in the water. This also is a fruit of God's anger; and when a people are in this posture, it argues that God hath smitten them in his anger. But when may a people be said to be thus smitten, as a reed shaken in the water ? Even then, when they are driven to and fro with every wind, when they are easily moved, and put by their station, so that any one that rises up against them, may afflict them, and lay them low. And if this unsettled, shaking condition, be a great judgment upon a nation or people; then surely the contrary is a great mercy, it is a great blessing indeed for any kingdom or nation to be in a settled estate and condition.*
* Sicut solet moveri arundo in aqua scilicet quia arundines faciliter moventur