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the Holy Ghost. They are really set apart by the power of the Spirit. Israel was set apart by ordinances; but these are sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling of His blood. That is to say, on the one hand, to obey as He obeyed; and on the other, to be sprinkled with His blood, and thus to be perfectly clear before God. Israel had been set apart for the obedience of the law, and for that blood which, while it announced death as the sanction of its authority, could never cleanse the soul from sin.
Such was the Christians' position. The Apostle wishes them grace and peace — the known portion of believers. He reminds them of the blessings with which God had blessed them; blessing God who had bestowed on them. Believing Israelites knew Him now, not in the character of Jehovah, but as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That which the Apostle presents as the fruit of His grace, is a hope beyond this world, not the inheritance of Canaan, appropriate to man living on the earth, which was the hope of Israel, and is still that of the unbelieving nation. The mercy of God had begotten them again for a living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead. This resurrection showed them a portion in another world, and the power which brought man into it, although he had been subjected to death: he would enter it by resurrection, through the glorious triumph of the Saviour, to share an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The Apostle is not speaking of our resurrection with Christ: he views the Christian as a pilgrim here, encouraged by the triumph of Christ Himself in resurrection; which animated him by the consciousness that there was a world of light and happiness before him, and a power which would bring him into that world. Consequently, the inheritance is spoken of as “reserved in Heaven. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, we are seated in the Heavens in Christ; and the inheritance is that of all things of which Christ Himself is heir. But the Christian is also in fact a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth; and it is a strong consolation to us, in our pilgrimage, to see
this heavenly inheritance before us, safely kept in the Heavens; and the resurrection of Jesus, as à certain pledge of our own entrance into it.
Another inestimable consolation is added. If the inheritance is preserved in Heaven for us, we are kept by the power of God all through our pilgrimage, that we may enjoy it at the end. Sweet thought !-we, kept here below, through all our dangers and difficulties, and, on the other hand, the inheritance there, where there is no defilement or possibility of decay.
Bat it is by moral means that this power preserves us (and it is in this way that Peter always speaks): by the operation in us of grace, which fixes the heart on objects that keep it in connection with God and with His promises (compare 2 Peter, i. 4). We are kept by the power of God THROUGH FAITH. It is God be praised !- the power of God Himself; but it acts by sustaining faith in the heart; maintaining it, in spite of all temptations, above all the deflements of the world, and filling the affections with heavenly things. Peter, however, always occupied with the ways of God respecting this world, only looks at the share that believers will have in this salvation, this heavenly glory, when it shall be manifested; when God will, by this glory, establish His authority in blessing on the earth. It is, indeed, the hearenly glory, but the heavenly glory manifested, as the means of the establishment of the supreme government of God on earth, for His own glory, and for the blessing of the whole world.
It is salvation, ready to be revealed in the last times. This word “ready" is important. Our apostle says, also, that the judgment is ready to be revealed. Christ is glorified personally, has conquered all His enemies, has accomplished redemption. He only waits for one thing, namely, that God should make His enemies His footstool. He has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, because He has accomplished everything. It is the actual salvation of souls--the gathering together of His own, which is not yet finished (2 Pet. iii. 9, 15); but when once all they who are to share it are brought in, there is nothing to wait for as
regards the salvation; that is to say, the glory in which the redeemed will appear, a nor, consequently, as regards the judgment of the wicked on the earth, which will be consummated by the manifestation of Christ. All is ready. This thought is sweet for us in our days of patience, but full of solemnity when we reflect upon judgment.
Yes, as the apostle says, we rejoice greatly in this salvation which is ready to be revealed in the last times. We are waiting for it. It is the time of rest, of the earth's blessing, of the full manifestation of His glory who is worthy of it, who was humbled and who suffered for us; the time when the light and the glory of Gori in Christ will illumine the world, and chase away all its evil.
This is our portion: abundant joy in the salvation about to be revealed, and in which we may always rejoice; although, if it be necdful for our good, we may be in sorrow through divers temptations. But it is only for a very little while-only a light affliction, which passes away, and which only comes upon us if it be needful, in order that the precious trial of faith should have its result in praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, for whom we are waiting. That is the end of all our sorrows and trials, transitory and light as they are, in comparison with the vast result of the excellent and eternal glory towards which they are leading us, according to the wisdom of God and the need of our souls. The heart attaches itself to Jesus: He will appear. We love Him, although we have never seen Him. In Him, though now we see Him not, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is this which decides and forms the heart, which fixes it, and fills it with joy, however it may be with us in this life. To our hearts, it is He who fills all the glory. By grace, I shall be glorified – I shall have the glory; but I love Jesus, zny heart pants for His presence, desires to see Him. Moreover, we shall then be like Him. The apostle may weil say, “ unspeakable and full of glory.” The heart can desire nothing else; and if some light afflictions are needful for us, we endure them gladly, since they are a means of forming us for the glory. And we can rejoice at the thought of Christ's appearing; for, in receiving Him unseen, into our heart, we receive the salvation of our soul. This is the object and the end of faith; far more precious than the temporal deliverances that Israel enjoyed, although the latter were tokens of the favour of God.
a The doctrine of the gathering together of the saints to Jesus in the air, when they go to meet Him, forms no part of Peter's teaching, any more than that of the Church, with which it is connected. He speaks of the manifestation of the saints in glory, because he is occupied with the ways of God towards the earth, although he is so in connection with Christianity.
b See 2 Thess i. 9, 10.
The apostle goes on to develop the three successive steps of the revelation of this grace of salvation—this fuil and entire deliverance from the consequences, the fruits, and the misery of sin. The prophecies; the testimony of the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; the manifestation of Jesus Christ Himself, when the deliverance, that had been already announced, should be fully accomplished.
It is interesting to see here how the rejection of the Mesiah, according to Jewish hopes, already anticipated and announced in the Prophets, necessarily made way for a salvation which brought with it that of the soul likewise. Jesus was no more seen, the earthly portion was not realised by His first coming, salvation was to be revealed in the last times. But thus a salvation of the soul was unfolded, the whole extent of which would be realised in the glory about to be revealed; for it was the spiritual joy of the soul in a heavenly Jesus who was not seen, and who, in His death, had accomplished expiation for sin, and in His resurrection, according to the power of the life of the Son of God, had begotten again to a living hope. By faith, then, this salvation was received —this true deliverance. It was not yet the glory and the outward rest; that salvation would indeed take place when Jesus appeared, but, meantime, the soul already enjoyed, by faith, this perfect rest, and, in hope, even the glory itself. Now the prophets had announced the grace of God which was to be accomplished for believers, and which, even now, imparts to the soul the enjoyment of that salvation; and they had searched into their own prophecies, which they had received by inspiration from God, seeking to understand what time, and what manner of time, the Spirit indicated, when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow. For the Spirit spoke of them both by the prophets, and signified, consequently, more than a temporal deliverance in Israel; for the Messiah was to suffer. And they discovered that it was not for them. selves, nor for their own times, that the Spirit of Christ announced these truths with regard to the Messiah, but for Christians. But Christians, while receiving salvation of the soul by the revelation of a Christ seated in Heaven after His sufferings, and coming again in glory, have not received those glories which were revealed to the prophets. These things have been reported with great and divine plainness by the Holy Ghost, sent down from Heaven after the death of Jesus; but the Spirit does not bestow the glory itself in which the Lord will appear. He has only declared it. Christians have, therefore, to gird up the loins of their mind, to be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that in effect) will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Such are the three successive steps in God's dealings: the prediction of the events relating to Christ, which went altogether beyond Jewish blessings; the things reported by the Spirit: the accomplishment of the things promised, when Christ is revealed.
That, then, which the apostle presents is a participation in the glory of Christ when He shall be revealed; that salvation, of which the prophets had spoken, which was to be revealed in the last days. But, meantime, God had begotten again the believing Jews to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead; and, by means of His sufferings, had made them comprehend that, even now, while waiting for the revelation of the glory, realising it in the person of Jesus, they enjoyed a salvation of the soul before which the deliverances of Israel faded away, and might be for