1 Peter 1:22
Christian love is the subject of this paragraph. There are no words here to show why that is dealt with in this particular place, but as the preceding verses treat of fear lest we should fail of the fruits which prove the possession of redemption, we may assume that the apostle here gives them a test by which this fear may be removed or confirmed, and no better test could be suggested than that of love. For love is such a test (John 13:34; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 John 3:14). Peter might have chosen some other test. Possibly he had reason for anxiety on this particular ground, for the Epistle contains several hints on the proper mutual relation of these Christians; e.g. 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 3:8-10 4:8; 5:5.

I. SALVATION IS HERE SPOKEN OF AS THE PURIFICATION OF THE SOUL IN OBEYING THE TRUTH. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth;" only another way of saying, "Seeing you have received this salvation of which I speak, which issues in holiness." For:

1. This is a suitable and comprehensive expression of the fact of salvation. "Obeying the truth" is a synonym for" believing the gospel;" e.g. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 6:17; Hebrews 5:9; Romans 10:16, in all of which "obey" is evidently equivalent to "believe." The word is used by Peter in that sense in this Epistle (1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 4:17). Link that with the other word, "purifying the soul;" and whether that refers to the cleansing by the atonement or by the work of the Spirit, we have the essential elements of redemption.

2. This expression with this meaning harmonizes well with what has gone before. The last two paragraphs from ver. 13 dealt largely with purification resulting from faith.

3. This particular way of speaking of salvation bears closely on the subject in hand. In each of the epistles to the seven Churches, our Lord gives himself a different title, according to the special condition of each Church. So here the apostle speaks of their redemption under this aspect of it, because this aspect of it bears on the duty of Christian love he is about to enforce.

III. SALVATION NATURALLY ISSUES IN CHRISTIAN LOVE. "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren."

1. Love a necessity where salvation is. That is shown as follows: "See that ye love one another,... being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God."

(1) Love a necessity because the Christian has a new nature. We are to love every man; but the love we are here called to is love of the brethren. But no power can make us love as a brother one who is not a brother; for that there must be a common fatherhood, and where that is it must be felt. Children of the same father, animated by the same principles, influenced by the same Divine Spirit, sharing the same hopes, joys, sorrows, conflicts, - these cannot help being drawn together.

(2) But this is also spoken of as a Divine nature. "Incorruptible." The relation between Christ's people is not a union after the flesh, such as connects Abraham's children. They are born, not of man, but of God; God's nature inspires them. Think of the love God has to his children! Then where God's nature is, love of the brethren must be.

(3) This is also an ever-living nature. The human nature fades, its strongest principles and closest bonds may last but a little while; even the mother may forget the child. But, said Isaiah, "the word of the Lord endureth for ever;" and Peter adds, "This is the word which has been preached to you." That is, this new life of ours does not die out; that which has produced it liveth and abideth for ever, and is a living, operative power in us. What God has thus implanted, he does not suffer to die. "He will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ;" he will develop its hidden possibilities. Then is it not certain that the redeemed man will love? God cannot impart and train a nature of love which does not love.

2. This love is of a very high order.

(1) "Unfeigned." Peter, Paul, and John all speak of this feature of Christian love. "Let love be without dissimulation;" "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth " - as though an assumed affection were common. But that is not Christian love.

(2) "Love out of a pure heart." That is holy. Christian love is holy love. Holiness is its basis. Contrary to loving all men, bad and good, as brethren. There must be charity to all, but true brotherly love towards those who turn from Christ there cannot be. Or does" pure" mean "unmixed"? - a love that rises from purely spiritual causes, and not because others are good to us, or give us pleasure, or belong to our Church. The publicans and sinners have that love. Christian love is due to love of God, and loves others because God does.

(3) "Fervent." The opposite of coldness. A love that lights up the features and makes the hand-grasp warm and kindles happiness. It consumes selfishness, and sets our thoughts to work for others' good. Fed from a heavenly source, "many waters cannot quench it" (waters of infirmity, neglect, jealousy, injury, yea, even wrong); that is Christian love - very different from bare courtesy. How can one feel coldly where the father loves divinely?

III. SALVATION IS THEREFORE TESTED BY THE POSSESSION OF THIS LOVE. Where the life is, the love is; where the life is low, so is the love.

1. Have we sympathy with the people of God - true fellow-feeling that helps? "Whoso hath this world's good," etc. We should if we loved.

2. Do we delight in fellowship with them? Love must be with its beloved. Is it so with us? do we love the house of God, the brotherhood, etc.? We should if we loved.

3. Are our judgments concerning them tender and charitable? "Love covers a multitude of sins;" "Love thinketh no evil," etc. Is it so with us? Do we find ourselves trying to put a favorable construction on evil reports, hushing them up, sorrowing over them, talking to God about them? We should if we loved.

4. Are we ashamed to call them brethren? - C.N.







Seeing ye have purified your souls
I. THE INDIVIDUAL INFLUENCE OF RELIGION. "Ye have purified your souls." This implies that personal corruption is an obstacle to beneficial influence over society, and that, in order to benefit others, we must first become pure ourselves. This purifying process is brought about — First, by the influence of "the truth." Sanctify them through Thy truth. The Word of God is like the sun, showing everything in its true colour; and its whole tendency is to purify the heart, by opposing all evil and promoting all good. Secondly, by the influence of the Spirit. "Through the Spirit." Thirdly, by the influence of obedience. "In obeying." This combines the work of man in union with the "truth" and Spirit of God in the purification of his heart.

II. THE SOCIAL INFLUENCE OF RELIGION. "Ye have purified your souls...unto unfeigned love of the brethren." The spirit of love is essential to the welfare of every society. There is no unfeigned love of the brethren but from the purified soul. First, the spirit of selfishness is obliterated from the purified soul. Secondly, the purified soul is God-like in its nature and influence. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." "God is love." Thirdly, the feelings of the purified soul are always loving and compassionate.

(H. E. Thomas.)

Love one another with a pure heart fervently
The obedience and holiness mentioned in the foregoing verses comprehend the whole duties and frame of a Christian life towards God and men; and having urged that in the general, he specifies this grace of mutual Christian love as the great evidence of our sincerity and the truth of our love to God, for men are subject to much hypocrisy this way, and deceive themselves. They can come constantly to the church, and pray, it may be, at home too, and yet cannot find in their hearts to forgive an injury.

I. THE DUE QUALIFICATIONS OF BROTHERLY LOVE.

1. Love must be unfeigned. It appears that dissimulation is a disease that is very incident in this particular. St. Paul hath the same word (Romans 12:9), and St. John speaks to the same effect (1 John 3:18). He requires that our love have that double reality which is opposed to double dissembled love; that it be cordial and effectual; that the professing of it arise from truth of affection, and, as much as may be, be seconded with action; that both the heart and the hand may be the seal of it rather than the tongue. When after variances men are brought to an agreement, they are much subject rather to cover their remaining malices with superficial verbal forgiveness than to dislodge them and free the heart of them. This is a poor self-deceit. As the philosopher said to him who, being ashamed that he was espied by him in a tavern in the outer room, withdrew himself to the inner, "That is not the way out; the more you go that way, you will be the further within it"; so when hatreds are, upon admonition, not thrown out, but retire inward to hide themselves, they grow deeper and stronger than before.

2. It must be pure, with a pure heart. Call it good fellowship or what you will, all the fruit that in the end can be expected out of unholy fellowship in sinning together is to be tormented together, and to add each to the torment of the other. The mutual love of Christians must be pure, arising from such causes as are pure and spiritual, from the sense of our Saviour's command and of His example (John 13:34). They that are indeed lovers of God are united; by that their hearts meet in Him as in one centre: they cannot but love one another. Where a godly man sees his Father's image, he is forced to love it. And as the Christian's love is pure in its cause, so in its effects and exercise. His society and converse with any tends mainly to this, that he may mutually help and be helped in the knowledge and love of God.

3. We must love fervently, not after a cold indifferent manner. Let the love of your brethren be as a fire within you, consuming that selfishness which is so contrary to it and is so natural to men. Let it set your thoughts on work to study how to do others good. Let your love be an active love, intense within you, and extending itself in doing good to the souls and bodies of your brethren as they need and you are able.

II. "Love of the brethren." In this is implied OUR OBLIGATION after a special manner to love those of the household of faith, because they are our brethren. There is in this fervent love sympathy with the griefs of our brethren, desire and endeavour to help them, bearing their infirmities, and recovering them too, if it may be; admonishing and reproving them as is needful, sometimes sharply, and yet still in love; rejoicing in their good, in their gifts and graces, so far from envying them that we be glad as if they were our own. You are brethren by the same new birth and born to the same inheritance, and such an inheritance as shall not be an apple of strife amongst you, to beget debates and contentions: no, it is enough for all, and none shall prejudice another, but you shall have joy in the happiness one of another, seeing you shall then be perfect in love, all harmony, no difference in judgment nor in affection, all your harps tuned to the same new song, which you shall sing forever. Let that love begin here which shall never end.

(Abp. Leighton.)

I. MUTUAL LOVE THE DUTY OF THE PURE.

II. PURITY, OBEDIENCE, LOVE ARE THE SIGNS OF A NEW LIFE WHICH THE CHRISTIAN IS LIVING.

III. THE FORCES OUT OF WHICH THIS NEW LIFE GROWS ARE DEATHLESS.

1. "Seed" —

(1)Appears insignificant.

(2)Is often hidden,

(3)Is vital and vitalising.

2. "Incorruptible." Truth itself never dies, nor love.

IV. THE WORD OF GOD IS THE IMPERISHABLE MEANS BY WHICH THESE FORCES OF LIFE ARE BROUGHT INTO THE VERY SOUL OF MAN.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. BROTHERLY LOVE ILLUSTRATED.

1. The objects and elements of this love.(1) It is called "the love of the brethren," "brotherly "kindness," as contradistinguished from that "charity" which has for its object the whole race of man (2 John 2).(2) This circumstance, which necessarily limits this principle as to its range, gives it greater comprehension of elementary principles and greater intensity of influence and activity of operation. It includes goodwill in its highest degree; but to this it adds moral esteem, complacential delight, tender sympathy.

2. The distinctive characters of Christian love.(1) "With a pure heart."

(a)The leading idea here is genuineness — sincerity. It must be real love, not affected or put on (Romans 12:9; 1 John 3:18).

(b)It includes freedom from all low, selfish motives and ends.(2) "Fervently."(a) This term conveys the idea of constancy. A Christian brother, when he acts like himself, "loves at all times." No change of circumstances, especially to the worse, on the part of its object, should affect it except in the way of increasing it.(b) The word also conveys the idea of intensity and power. Our Christian love should be so fervent as that "many waters" of neglect, infirmities, offences, petty injuries, "shall not quench it," or even damp its ardour. And it should manifest its strength, not merely by overcoming opposing obstacles, but by making exertions and sacrifices.(3) There is one character which it is of peculiar importance that our mutual affection as Christians should be distinguished by — it should be love like Christ's (John 13:34). His love was free and ready, considerate and wise, laborious and expensive, generous and self-sacrificing; looking to all their interests, but chiefly to their highest interests; not forgetting that they had bodies, but chiefly concerned about their souls; and such should be our brotherly love.

II. BROTHERLY LOVE RECOMMENDED.

1. The intimate and indissoluble mutual relation between Christians as brethren, arising out of their intimate and indissoluble common relation to God as their Father, is a strong motive to the cultivation and exercise of Christian brotherly kindness.

2. The common character to which all Christians have been formed by the agency of the same Spirit, and the instrumentality of the same Word, is another strong motive.

(J. Brown, D. D.)

I. ITS NECESSITY.

1. The injunctions of Christ (John 13:34, 35; John 15:12; Matthew 5:24; Matthew 25:34, 35, 41, 42).

2. The teachings of His apostles (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1.; 1 John 4:7, 16, 20, etc.).

II. ITS EXTENT.

1. To all mankind. The more general it is, the more Christian and the more like God's love.

2. The more special objects of our love ought to be those who agree with us in a common faith (Galatians 6:10) — i.e., all Christians, as Christians, and because such. To love those that are of our way, humour, and opinion, is not charity, but self-love; 'tis not for Christ's sake, but our own.

III. ITS EXCELLENCE.

1. It is the image of God, and of all the graces renders us most like our Maker, for God is love and the lover of men. And is it not a glorious excellency that makes men like the fountain of all perfection?

2. It is the spirit of angels, glorified souls, and the best of men.

3. Love is an eminent branch of the Divine life and nature (1 John 4:7, 8).

4. Love is the bond and type of Christian communion.

5. Love is the most Catholic grace, and upon that account the most excellent, since that which promotes the good of the whole is better than any private perfection.

6. Love commends Christianity to those without, and cleanseth the profession of it from many spots it hath contracted.

IV. THE MEANS OF ATTAINING THIS EXCELLENT AND CATHOLIC TEMPER.

1. Directions.(1) Acknowledge worth in any man. Whatever is good is from God, and He is to be loved and owned in all things, as well in the paint upon the butterfly's wing as in the glorious uniform lustre of the sun; in the least herb under our feet as well as in the stupendous fabric of the heavens over us. And moral perfections are to be acknowledged, as wall as these natural ones. And we must take care that we make not our relish the measure of worth and goodness. Say not this is excellent because it is agreeable to your particular palates, and that on the other hand is vile because it is distasteful to your genius. Let us, then, be so ingenious as to own the virtue and the goodness that is in all parties and opinions; let us commend and love it.(2) Be much in the contemplation of the love of God. He that knows how much God hath loved him, hath a mighty reason to love his brother (1 John 4:11).(3) Make the great design of religion yours; and know that the intent of that is, not to teach us systems of opinion, but to furnish our minds with encouragements of virtue and instances of duty; to direct us to govern our passions and subdue our appetites and self-wills, in order to the glory of God, the good of societies, and our own present and eternal interests.(4) Study the moderate, pacific ways and principles, and run not in extremes. Both truth and "love are in the middle. Extremes are dangerous.

2. Considerations.(1) Love is part of religion; but opinions, for the sake of which we lose charity, are none. The first I have proved already, and for the other we may consider that religion consists, not in knowing many things, but in practising the few plain things we know.(2) Charity is certainly our duty, but many of the opinions, about which we fall out, are uncertainly true; viz., as to us. The fundamental points of faith are indeed as firm as the centre, but the opinions of men are as fluctuating as the waves of the ocean. The root and body of a tree is fast and unshaken, while the leaves are made the sport of every wind. And colours sometimes vary with every position of the object and the eye, though the light of the sun be an uniform splendour. The foundation of God standeth sure, but men often build upon it what is very tottering and uncertain. The great truths of religion are easily discernible, but the smaller and remoter ones require more acuteness to descry them; and the best light may be deceived about such obscure and distant objects. The apostle tells us that we know but in part (1 Corinthians 13:9), and makes confidence an argument of ignorance (1 Corinthians 8:2).(3) Christian love is necessary, but agreement in opinions is neither necessary nor possible.(4) Errors of themselves are infirmities of the understanding, and not enormities of the will, for no man is willing to be deceived. So that they ought not to be the objects of our hatred but our pity. We all are pilgrims in our way to the Jerusalem that is above. If some will go in this path, some in the other, these in a circuit, and those amongst the rocks, we may be sure it is because they know not the danger and inconveniences which they choose.(5) We ought to make allowance for education, authority, and fair pretences, which have a mighty power, even over honest minds, and do often unavoidably lead them into error. For let us consider how easily we receive the first impressions, and how deeply they sink into our souls.(6) In many things we err ourselves; and, therefore, shall have need of the charity of others.

3. Cautions.(1) Beware of inordinate admiration and love of any sect. When we passionately admire a party, we are apt to despise them that differ from it.(2) Avoid eager and passionate disputes. In these charity is always lost, and truth seldom or never found. If thou art desirous to prevail with thy friend to lay down his opinion, assault him not by the fierceness of disputes; for such attempts will but raise his passion, and that will make him stick the closer to his error; but shine upon him with a calm light, insinuate thy better principle by modest and gentle suggestions.(3) Beware of zeal about opinions, by which I mean all the propositions of less certainty or consequence.(4) Beware of censuring and affixing odious names and consequences upon the persons or opinions of others.

(Joseph Glanvil.)

What is that love of which our Lord and His apostles speak? Not only, or primarily, kind feelings or generous impulses. Not certainly the sentimentality which breathes itself out in sighs and raptures. Not merely the fond attachment which clings as the rose against the trellis. But, above all things, service — self-denial and self-giving. To put another's well-being before our own, not because it is pleasant to do it, but because it is right. To make another the pivot around which the wheel of activity revolves. To check the hasty word, the unkind speech, the damaging criticism.

I. THE MARKS OF SUCH LOVE.

1. Unfeigned. Dissimulation is a disease very antagonistic to Christian love. How subtly we are tempted to maintain appearances because of some ulterior gain. Our politeness is often but skin deep. Our smiles assumed for a purpose. Our words smoother than butter, whilst our hearts are drawn swords.

2. Pure. "Hearts may be cemented by impurity, by ungodly conversation and society in sin, as in uncleanness or drunkenness."

3. Fervently. "On the stretch." Our love seldom gets beyond "temperate," and never to boiling point.

II. THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF SUCH LOW. "It will come through obeying the truth."

1. We must know the truth. Put two burnished mirrors opposite each other, and there will be no glow of light on either; but if a candle stand between, the beams of light are flung to and fro, to an extent impossible to either or both alone. So the mere contact of Christian with Christian will not necessarily produce the burning heart, unless there be also between them the Truth of God.

2. We must also obey the truth. Do, and you shall know. Obey, and you will love.

3. As we obey the truth, we shall be purified by it. Young men cleanse their way by taking heed to the Divine Word.

III. THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF THE LIFE WITHIN. It is "not of man, or of the will of the flesh, but of God."

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. PURITY.

1. The word for "purified" is not that denoting the infusion of virtue, but that which signifies the expulsion from the soul of all defilement, and especially of selfishness. Worldly philosophies and religions only required external lustration — the purification of the life; Christianity inculcates inward sanctity — the purification of the soul.

2. The way to effect this is by believing obedience to the truth as revealed in the Gospel. Christian truths, different from the truths of mathematics and of art, exert a sanctifying influence on the heart. This is the main purpose of their revelation. But how do they accomplish this object? By being obeyed.

3. Truth is only the wire along which the electric current flows from the spirit of God to the spirit of man, only the vehicle to convey holy influences direct from the Holy Ghost to the human soul, which influences set up a spiritual ferment within, making the impurities rise like scum to the surface, finally to be cast off altogether. What, then, is the result of this refining, purifying process? "Unfeigned love of the brethren." A new word has been ostentatiously introduced into recent literature, namely, "altruism." What is its meaning? That man should think more and care more for others than for himself, that he should be ready to sacrifice himself, if need be, for the sake of others. This idea is couched in more intelligible, because simpler, language in the text.

II. UNFEIGNEDNESS. "Unfeigned love of the brethren" — genuine love, without dissimulation, free from hypocrisy.

1. We read of "faith unfeigned," that is to say, faith which is firm and solid to the core. Faith is oftentimes hollow, simulated. "Faith unfeigned" — faith that will move forward through all the miry bogs of infidelity, that will brave the storm and stress of life.

2. "Love unfeigned" — what then is this? Love which will not give way under trial, that will suffer a burden to be put on its back.

III. FERVOUR.

1. This implies that our love of the brethren should be powerful enough to overcome all sinful obstacles in our own nature, to burn up all the relies of selfishness in our own souls, so that we may find our supreme delight in serviceableness to our fellow men.

2. It is further implied that our love should be so intense as to overcome all national and sectarian differences. "Love one another fervently," of whatever nation you may chance to be.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

I. THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED. "See ye have purified your souls." There is the beginning of all. Many men are disposed to work from without, and not from within; but the Spirit works from within. Men think that if they whitewash the sepulchre it is enough. No, it must be cleansed. See to it then, and "keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" and death.

II. THE INSTRUMENT OF ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. "Ye obey the truth." God works by instruments in the order of His providential creation and government. God has appointed, in order to the purifying of men's souls, a divinely constituted means. We have the word of truth, the incorruptible seed of which His people are born again.

III. ONE SPECIAL RESULT OF THIS WORK. "Unfeigned love of the brethren."

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

The word thus translated means extended, or on the stretch. It conveys the idea of a constant tension such as is supplied in machinery by a steel spring. In one department of a sewing machine all depends on the thread being kept constantly tight, so that the moment any slackness occurs, the loose portion is picked up instantly and without fail. If that operation were left dependent on the watchfulness and quickness of a human operator, it would entirely fail. The worker would grow weary, would forget, would hasten to tighten the thread after the time was past, and all would go to wreck and ruin. But by entrusting the watch and the work to a bent elastic steel wire, an absolute infallibility is secured. The watcher never forgets, the worker never wearies. The work is done perfectly, and always done at the right moment. The spring is always on the stretch and never misses. Though it is obliged to watch the slackening, and pull the thread instantly tight, a hundred times a minute, all day long for twenty years, it never once forgets or fails. The precept requires a love of this sort watching and working in a Christian's heart. If you need to remember your duty every time that a sudden injury occurs, you will not be in time with the soft answer that turns away wrath. Before love has gathered itself up, and determined on its course, the opportunity will be past. The disciple of Christ will appear as irascible, passionate, and revengeful as other men. There must be a spring — a law of love set once for all as a faculty of the new heart, that will operate instantaneously and uniformly.

(W. Arnot.)

Being born again
I. THE NATURE OF REGENERATION.

1. A change of qualities or dispositions: not a change of the substance of the soul.

2. A super. natural change (John 3:5).

3. A change into the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

4. A universal change (2 Corinthians 5:17).

5. A lasting change.(1) The mind is savingly enlightened. In the knowledge of God, sin, self, Jesus Christ, vanity of world (Psalm 119:96). Spiritual things (1 John 2:20).(2) The will is renewed (Ezekiel 36:26). Cured of its utter inability to will what is good. Imbued with a fixed aversion to evil (Galatians 5:17). Endowed with an inclination and propensity to good.(3) The affections are rectified and regulated.(4) The conscience is renewed.(5) As the memory wanted not its share of depravity, it is also bettered by regenerating grace. It is strengthened for spiritual things.(6) There is a change made on the body, and the members thereof, in respect of their use; they are consecrated to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:13; Romans 6:13), "servants to righteousness unto holiness" (Romans 6:19).(7) This gracious change shines forth in the conversation. A new heart makes newness of life.

II. WHY THIS CHANGE IS CALLED REGENERATION, a being born again. It is so called, because of the resemblance between natural and spiritual generation, which lies in the following particulars.

1. Natural generation is a mysterious thing: and so is spiritual generation (John 3:8).

2. In both, the creature comes to a being it had not before.

3. As the child is passive in generation, so is the child of God in regeneration.

4. There is a wonderful contexture of pasts in both births. Oh the wonderful contexture of graces in the new creature!

5. All this, in both cases, has its rise from that which is in itself very small and inconsiderable.

6. Natural generation is carried on by degrees.

7. In both there are new relations. The regenerate may call God Father; for they are His children (John 1:12, 13), "begotten of Him" (chap. 1 Peter 1:3). They are related, as brethren, to angels and glorified saints; "the family of heaven."

8. There is a likeness between the parent and the child (2 Peter 1:4).

9. As there is no birth without pain, so there is great pain in bringing forth the new creature. The soul has sore pains when under conviction and humiliation.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

1. Unlike man's mortal life, this new moral life is independent of the earth. The productions of the earth cannot support it; the blasts and the storms of the earth cannot destroy it.

2. Unlike man's mortal life, this new moral life is ever progressive. Like the trees of the forest and the beasts of the field, man's mortal life reaches a culminating point and then dies out. Not so with this new moral life.

3. Unlike man's mortal life, this new moral life is essentially a blessing. Man's mortal life may become, and often is, a curse.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

A man shall never have occasion to curse the day of his new birth.

(J. Trapp.)

In passing from nature to grace you did not pass from a lower to a higher stage of the same condition — from daybreak to sunshine, but from darkest night to dawn of day. Unlike the worm which changes into a winged insect, or the infant who grows up into a stately man, you became, not a more perfect, but a "new creature" in Jesus Christ.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible
I. CHRISTIANITY MUST SATISFY THE INTELLECTUAL REQUIREMENTS OF EVERY AGE.

1. In order to this, Christianity in its statements, historical and doctrinal, must be in perfect accord with the demonstrations of science in the various departments of knowledge to which it devotes itself.

2. To be perpetuated as the religion of the race, Christianity must not only harmonise with the conclusions of the intellect in other provinces, but must continue to offer new problems of its own. The moment the Bible will be an understood book, it will be a moribund book. And what it proves itself to be to individual man in innumerable cases, that it claims to be to man universal. Let the ages be yet cultivated with greater diligence and trained to a higher point in knowledge than anything we have so far witnessed, and the Gospel has its questions for them, problems which will utterly baffle the finest cultured minds. This assuredly is one element which contributes powerfully to its perpetuity, that the intellect can never minster it.

3. But in a religion which claims perpetuity you would further expect it would stimulate the understanding into greater activity, and infuse new life into all its pursuits. That is to say, it must become the prime factor in the history of the world. Christianity does exercise restraint, not upon progress but upon retrogression; not upon truth but upon sin; not upon the intellect but upon the spirit which is now working in the children of disobedience. It checks the spirit of the nineteenth century, it spurs its science.

II. IF CHRISTIANITY IS TO LIVE FOREVER, IT MUST MEET THE MORAL REQUIREMENTS OF EVERY AGE.

1. This implies that it must accord with the distinct dictates of our moral nature.

2. Another requisite, in order to its perpetuation, is that it be in advance of the moral performances of any particular age.

3. Christianity, to endure forever, must enter into the morals of the world as a refining element. War — ferocity — butchery — is that your civilisation? demand our opponents. We answer, Certainly not; that is barbarism. That is not Christianity, but its opposite, and a cogent reason why Christianity should not be thrown aside till they at least have been exterminated.

III. IF THE GOSPEL IS TO ENDURE TO THE END OF TIME, IT MUST CONTINUE TO MEET THE SPIRITUAL WANTS OF MAN. If it do not this it is inevitably doomed to extinction.

1. As a sinner, man needs a Saviour. The sinner finds true inward rest in the atonement of the Gospel, the sense of guilt is cancelled.

2. As a creature he needs God. Cast a glance over the history of the world; everywhere the great want is God. What then can give us God? Science does not profess to be able to give Him. Professor Huxley says that the state of mind becoming men of science on this subject is a sort of know nothingarianism or Agnosticism. Well then, if science cannot do it, is there any religion besides Christianity that can? Mahometanism declares the unity and supremacy of God. But to say that God is, and that He is the supreme Ruler, is one thing; to bring Him to the conscious enjoyment of the soul quite another. The religion of India strives to bridge the gap; but instead of communion between man and God, it ends in the absorption of man in God. But however much we desire communion, we quite as much dread absorption. These meet only a fragment of our nature. But Christianity meets the whole man; it presents God to our contemplation in Him in whom "all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily," and to our consciousness by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. As long as man is a sinner needing a Saviour, and a creature needing a God, Christianity will live in the grateful affection of myriads of our race.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

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