2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Sermons
Man Summoned by God's Glory and EnergyAlexander Maclaren2 Peter 1:3
Increase of Spiritual Life Dependent on the Knowledge of GodC. New 2 Peter 1:2, 3
A Glimpse of GloryThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:3-4
All Things Pertaining to Life and Godliness Given unto the SaintsH. Quick.2 Peter 1:3-4
Christ the Complement of Our LifeF. B. Meyer, B. A.2 Peter 1:3-4
DepravityHomilist2 Peter 1:3-4
Divine Promises2 Peter 1:3-4
Exceeding Great and Precious PromisesJohn Graham.2 Peter 1:3-4
Great and Precious PromisesE. P. Hood.2 Peter 1:3-4
Partakers of the Divine NatureW. Wilson, M. A.2 Peter 1:3-4
Partakers of the Divine NatureC. H. Parkhurst, D. D.2 Peter 1:3-4
Partakers of the Divine NatureA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:3-4
Precious PromisesW. Lawson, D. D.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Beginning of Soul-SalvationU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:3, 4
The Bounty of GodJ.R. Thomson 2 Peter 1:3, 4
The Design of the Promises of GodR. Watson.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Divine LiberalityThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Divinely Assimilating Force of Divine PromisesHomilist2 Peter 1:3-4
The Efficacy of the PromisesH. Melvill, B. D.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Influence of the Promises of the GospelAbp. Tillotson.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Promises Designed to Make Men HolyN. W. Taylor, D. D.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Promises of GodD. Wilson, M. A.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Promises of GodW. Scott.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Wonders of Divine GraceThe Freeman.2 Peter 1:3-4
The Christian Virtues in Their CompletenessU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:3-11
The lot of the primitive Christians whom the apostles addressed in their spoken and written utterances must, for the most part, have appeared to ordinary observers far from desirable. Not only were they drawn from the lowly and unconsidered classes of society, but they often had much to endure as a consequence of their reception of the gospel and their fidelity to Christ. Especially did they meet with the contempt of the great, on account of their adhesion to what the world deemed an unreasonable superstition, and with the hostility, now of a mob, and again of a governor, who attacked them with the weapons of persecution. Yet these primitive Christians took an independent view of their own position, and judged themselves very differently from the world's judgment. They were taught by their inspired instructors and counselors - as by St. Peter in this passage - to consider themselves objects of the Divine favour, recipients of the Divine bounty - nay, even partakers of the Divine life. Such an appreciation of their position and spiritual endowments might be deemed by their unenlightened and worldly neighbours mere fanaticism. But events proved that the Church of Christ was under no illusion in cherishing a profound conviction that all its true members were enriched with incomparable wealth, and called to a glorious destiny. High thoughts of privilege prepared for deeds of daring and of endurance; and the world which could not comprehend the Church's faith and claims was constrained to feel and to acknowledge the Church's power.

I. THE DIVINE GIVER.

1. His boundless power accounts for the plenitude and variety of God's bestowments upon his people. If we speak of him as "the Almighty," when considering his material creation and all its illimitable extent, and its teeming wonders, much more evidently is such an appellation justified when we turn to regard those higher manifestations of creative energy which are furnished in transformations wrought in the individual and the social life of man.

"'Twas great to speak a world from naught,
'Twas greater to redeem."

2. His wonderful generosity. The endowments of the Church arc said to be "granted" or "given." And this must have been so; for they are altogether beyond human acquirement, whilst nothing that man could do could earn such blessings. And when the sinfulness of the whole race of men is considered, the generosity which was expressed in the bestowment of such gifts upon such recipients must be acknowledged to be wonderful indeed.

II. THE SPIRITUAL GIFT. There are two parties to every gift, and in order to appreciate it, it is necessary to look at the gift in relation to him who gives and to those who receive.

1. Looked at on their Divine side, these gifts are the fulfillment of "promises precious and exceeding great." It would be absurd and sinful to suppose that what God bestows upon his creatures is flung to them in a momentary and capricious fit of liberality. As a matter of fact, from the earliest periods of human history, from the time of man's "fall," the revelation of God had been one intended to inspire hope of salvation; and the primaeval promise had been renewed, both by language and by symbol, from age to age. These promises might not always be fully understood, clear as they are to us when we read them in the light of their fulfillment. But they were glorious with a glory exceeding any human assurances of help and blessing. And the purport of them all was to reveal a Divine intention to provide spiritual blessings - knowledge, deliverance, and life - for a needy and a sinful race. Great as were the promises, the fulfillment was greater still. A Saviour was promised, and in the fullness of time a Saviour came; the incarnation and advent of Christ were the accomplishment of the predictions and the purposes of eternal wisdom and eternal love. The diffusion of the Spirit throughout a society which needed enlightenment and healing and fertilization was the accomplishment of some of the most striking and poetical prophecies of Old Testament Scripture.

2. Looked at on their human side, these Divine gifts include "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." A marvelously comprehensive description! Spiritual death and ungodliness prevailed in the world. And there was no human means by which their power could be destroyed and the salvation of men secured. But in the fulfillment of the Divine promises, in the mediatorial dispensation, in the coming of the Son of God, and of the Spirit of life and holiness, the amplest provision was made for the highest and immortal welfare of men. We may compare this declaration with the reasoning of Paul, who argues that he who spared not his Son, but gave him up for us all, will with him also freely give us all things.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE DIVINE GIFT IS APPRECIATED BY THE HUMAN RECIPIENT.

1. There is a call, a summons, an invitation of God. Very fine, very elevating and encouraging, is St. Peter's representation of the method adopted by Divine wisdom to secure that the gift shall not be lost. It is "by his own glory and virtue" that God calls us to salvation, i.e., by an exhibition of his natural and moral attributes eminently fitted to reveal himself to our hearts, and to produce upon those hearts a deep impression, winning them to faith, devotion, gratitude, and love. The beginning of good must be, and is, a movement on the part of the Almighty Ruler and Saviour.

2. There is a consequent "knowledge" of our redeeming God, which the revelation makes possible to us, furnishing us with an object of knowledge. Such teaching as this is directly opposed to the agnosticism with which so many are content. Our Lord himself, in his intercessory prayer, laid the greatest stress upon the knowledge of himself and of the Father. Doubtless this is a knowledge of a higher kind than is our knowledge of nature; and it is far more powerful to affect the character, to mould the life. Yet it is knowledge which is within the reach of the lowliest and the least cultured. To know God in Christ is life eternal. - J.R.T.







His Divine power hath given unto us all things.
I. THE FOUNTAIN.

1. The hope of the petitioner. The experience of former mercy works a persuasion of future mercy.(1) Let us pray in confidence that God will hear us, because He hath heard us. A noble princess asked a courtier when he would leave begging; he answered, when she left giving.(2) Seeing that God gives more where He hath given much, let us be thankful; for how should God bless us with that we have not if we do not bless Him for that we have?

2. The ability of the Giver. Here is power, yea, Divine power; not only great, but good. For mercy and majesty must meet together in the donation of all things that pertain to life and godliness. The knowledge of this Divine and giving power may comfort the most dejected heart.(1) Concerning the salvation of others and ourselves; how desperate soever we judge their estates, by reason of their continual habit of sinning, yet this Divine power is able to convert them.(2) This comforts us in the midst of all afflictions. We are weak in ourselves, unable to stand under the lightest cross; but there is a Divine power that strengthens us. Though it doth not nullify our sorrows, yet it doth fortify our patience (Colossians 1:11).(3) This comforts us in prayer.(4) This comforts us against all opposition, even those principalities that wrestle against us (1 John 4:4; Revelation 12:11).(5) Let this hearten us to cheerful liberality; because, whatever we lack or lose, there is a Divine power able to requite it (2 Corinthians 9:8).

3. The liberty of the action. God does not set, nor let, nor sell, nor lend, but give.(1) How to judge of all we have; as the Lord's gifts, not our own merits (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 15:10).(2) Follow God's example, in being evermore giving good things.

4. The necessity of the receivers.(1) We had nothing; miserable beggars.(2) We deserved nothing.

5. The universality of the gift. "All things that pertain" —(1) To life.(a) Natural. He put a soul to our flesh, gave birth to the child, nourishment after birth; bread when we were hungry, drink when we were thirsty, etc. To the wise man his wisdom, to the strong his might, to the wealthy his riches, etc.(b) Spiritual; whereby we live to Him, and in Him, and whereby He lives in us.(2) To godliness. By His grace we come to godliness, and by godliness to life.

II. THE CISTERN. The ever-flowing and over-flowing conduit is Christ, in whom dwells all fulness (Colossians 1:19). The more capacious a vessel of faith we bring, the greater measure of faith we shall receive.

1. The water of life, which is an effectual calling to glory and virtue.(1) Who hath called us. Christ alone can call home sinners.(2) The action. There was a time when Christ came personally to call. He went out from His majesty that is invisible, to His mercy that is manifested in His works. Now He calleth at divers times, in divers places, and after divers manners.

(a)In all ages of the world, and of men's lives.

(b)Some from their ships, others from their shops, etc.

(c)After divers manners. First, by the preaching of the Word; and herein He useth two bells to ring us to church, the treble of mercy and the tenor of judgment. Next, in His sacraments.(3) Whom hath He called? "Us" — miserable sinners, that were deaf and could not hear Him, lame and could not meet Him, blind and could not see Him, dead and could not answer Him.(4) To what? "To glory and virtue."(a) In present being. We must understand by "glory" the honour of being Christians; by "virtue" the good life that becometh Christians.(b) Hereafter we shall come to a perfect and plenary possession. The virtue there is a pure white garment without spot, and the glory a golden crown of eternity.

2. The pipe and bucket to draw and derive all to us. "Through the knowledge," etc. One was of opinion that a philosopher excels an ordinary man as much as an ordinary man excels a beast; but every true Christian excels a philosopher as much as a philosopher does a dunce. They scarce knew God in His creatures; we know God in His Christ. There is no pleasure so sweet as knowledge, no knowledge so sweet as that of religion, no knowledge of religion so sweet as that of Christ; for this is eternal life, etc. (John 17:3). Let us therefore use the means to get knowledge.(1) Read the Scripture; that is God's will, there is knowledge (John 5:39).(2) Frequent the temple; that is God's house, there is knowledge (Psalm 73:16, 17).(3) Resort to the Communion; that is God's maundy, there is knowledge (1 Corinthians 11.26).(4) Consult His ministers, for the priest's lips preserve knowledge.

(Thos. Adams.)

I. THE GREATNESS OF DIVINE GRACE. "His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." The reference here is to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

1. Grace comes by Divine power. It is no angelic effort or human invention. Its wisdom is Divine omniscience. Its power is Divine omnipotence. Its activity is Divine omnipresence. Its resources infinite. Its love the eternal love of God:

2. It supplies every real need. Life is the state and godliness the activity. In the gift of the Holy Spirit every possible want of the soul is met.

II. THE METHOD OF DIVINE GRACE. It comes through the knowledge of Him that calleth us by His own glory and virtue. In knowledge is the spring of life. Our actions are governed by our volitions, our volitions by our emotions, our emotions by our knowledge or belief. Thoughts of Christ's love set our hearts all aglow with love to Him, and that love becomes the spring of a new and holy life.

III. THE CONSOLATION OF DIVINE GRACE. "Exceeding great and precious promises."

IV. THE GLORY OF DIVINE GRACE. That through these ye may become partakers of the Divine nature.

V. THE FOE OF DIVINE GRACE. The corruption that is in the world by lust. There are two great spiritual cities: in the one there is corruption by lust, in the other life by godliness. The Divine new life is in peril in the poisoned air, that life which to the believer is infinitely more precious than all besides.

(The Freeman.)

All things that pertain unto life and godliness
I. THAT THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE TO LIVE GODLY LIVES.

II. THAT FOR THIS LIFE AND GODLINESS, DIVINE POWER BESTOWS EVERYTHING NECESSARY.

1. It is necessary that He should give us all things, for we have nothing in ourselves.

2. It is very gracious of Him to give all things. We were told that during the first winter campaign in the Crimea, our armies were subject to many sufferings and privations on account of inadequate provisions. This might have been so; it often has been so in times of war, and no human power can prevent it. But it can never be so with the armies of the Cross. Divine power is our guarantee.

III. THE TEXT TEACHES US THAT ALL THINGS ARE IN CHRIST, AND OBTAINED THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM.

IV. THAT AMONG THE "ALL THINGS" WE HAVE IN CHRIST THE PROMISES ARE ESPECIALLY TO BE PRIZED.

V. THAT THE POSSESSION OF THESE HEAVENLY GIFTS MAKES US PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE.

(H. Quick.)

In the sunshine there is a colour for every plant that seeks its own hue out of sunshine, and in Jesus Christ there is every possible hue which the heart could want. All things that pertain to godliness are in Christ — in other words, Christ is the complement of our nature. When I use that word complement — a mathematical term — I infer that just as a segment of a circle may be a very small thing, and may need the rest of the circumference to be its complement, so, whatever be the segment of your life, Jesus Christ is the complement of all the rest. He just fills out your deficiency and makes you a complete thing. It is no use a man saying he was born deficient in patience, because there is all the patience of Jesus to complete his impatience; no use for a man to complain of weakness or cowardice, when any kind of want comes, which has been permitted to come into his life that he might learn to appropriate the fulness of Christ. So the apostle gloried in his infirmity, because he said — the smaller the segment is the more of a complement I get, and a man may even be proud in a sense of the natural deficiencies of his nature, because he is thrown back upon Jesus Christ, in whom everything is stored to make him a saint.

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

Called us to glory and virtue
I. THAT WHEREBY A CHRISTIAN MAY HAVE TITLE, INTEREST, AND COMFORT, IN LIFE AND GLORY. It is not a knowledge of calling in general, but of that particular calling of ourselves to glory and virtue. This doth interest us in the promises of God (Acts 2:39). No calling, no promise. Nay, further, without this there is no encouragement to holiness (1 Timothy 6:12). By our calling, which is by an eternal purpose and grace of God in time, changing and renewing us unto holiness of life, we come to know the eternal decree of God, which otherwise were presumption to look unto. For, as a prince's secret mind is made known by edicts and proclamations, which before we durst not search into, neither could know, so when God's secret counsel to execution is manifested, by changing our hearts, by calling us from the world to an holy calling, in a sanctified life: this, then, is no presumption, but duty in us, by our calling, to judge of our election, and so of our calling to glory and virtue. If you look for an example of this, see that of St. Paul (Galatians 2:20).

II. THAT THIS KNOWLEDGE OF OUR PARTICULAR CALLING IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST MOTIVES UNTO ALL GOODNESS. So we see the apostles in their opinions still urge holiness and sanctification from this ground of the assurance of calling and election (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12). He that hath no assurance of this calling can have little comfort in performing of holy duties. A fearful, doubting soul lives in much vexation.

Use 1: The first is against all such as oppose this doctrine, chiefly the Papists, who are for that, that a man should not inquire after the assurance of his salvation.

Use 2. The second is, that every man then must try his title, what calling he hath.

Use 3: The third is for instruction. If this be so, let not then any man dare to confound the external calling of men with the internal calling of God. Further, how precious this calling should be unto us, we may see (Luke 10:20). Here is only cause of true joy. By this then be sure to take thy warrant of rejoicing, fetch it out of this calling, that God hath called thee to glory and virtue, which is the next thing to consider of; our calling to glory and virtue; I mean a consideration of these things whereunto we are called, glory and virtue.

1. Glory. Glory is the end of all. The glory of God is the furthest reach and end of all things, and virtue is the way leading unto glory. This glory then we speak of is the reward of goodness, and is ever attended with virtue. For as shame and sin still go together, so do glory and virtue, even by the testimony of the consciences of all good and ill men. The glory then we speak of is an eternal glory. It is not meant, when he says "called to glory," that a Christian is only called unto that, and unto nothing else by the way, but by the way he is called unto virtue, and by occasion unto afflictions. But God's end of calling us is unto glory; as 1 Thessalonians 2:12. This glory is only of His mercy, from whence glory floweth unto us; mercy is the ground thereof. What shall I say of(2) Be thankful to the Giver, not only for spiritual, but even for temporal things. It is not enough to take the whole loaves, but let us even gather up the fragments. And if God gives all to us, let us give something to Him. Not only my goods, but myself.(3) Be not proud, arrogate not that to thyself which is God's gift.

5. These promises are signed, sealed, delivered, and bound with an oath.(1) God hath put His hand to them in the gospel.(2) The two sacraments are the seals.(3) They are delivered to us (Romans 8:15). Use: From the stability of God's promises to us let us learn to be constant in the performance of our promise, both to God and to man.

II. AN INHERITANCE. God's nature may be participated two ways, of quality and of equality.

1. For equality: this is only proper to the three Persons of the Trinity.

2. Our participation must be only qualitative: by nature we understand not substance, but quality, by grace in this world and by glory in the world to come. This communication of the Divine nature to us is by reparation of the Divine image in us (Hebrews 12:10; Ephesians 4:24; Romans 8:29).

(1)As servants of a Master; not merely as creatures; so all men partake (Acts 17:28).

(2)As subjects of a Prince; and thus we partake with the King of heaven in many benefits.

(3)As sons of a Father: thus we partake many things of the Divine nature.

(4)As members of a Head (1 Corinthians 12:27).

(5)As branches of a Vine (John 15.).

III. A DELIVERANCE.

1. The discovery of great danger.(1) The infection, corruption of lust. It gets into the thoughts, senses, tongue, hands, etc.(2) The dispersion through the world. Consider the villainy, misery, inconstancy, insufficiency of it.

2. The recovery. We have escaped, not by our power, but by His grace that hath delivered us (Psalm 124:7). There is a fourfold manner of freeing captives.

(1)By manumission (John 8:36).

(2)By commutation. Christ was killed; we escaped.

(3)By ransom (1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 1:19).

(4)By violence (2 Timothy 4:17). God did all this for us, and shall we do nothing for Him, for ourselves?

(Thos. Adams.)

I. THE EXCELLENCY OF THE DIVINE PROMISES. The promises of Scripture are generally declarations which God has made of His intention to bestow blessings upon His faithful people. Under the Old Testament dispensation the promises mainly related to the future advent of the Messiah. The Christian covenant is, in fact, one comprehensive promise (Jeremiah 31:33, 34; Jeremiah 32:40; Hebrews 8:6-12). So that illumination, pardon, holiness, and union with God — that is, all imaginable mercies — are included in this one rich and overflowing promise.

II. THE DESIGN FOR WHICH THESE PROMISES ARE GIVEN — "that by these you might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." The two designs of the promises, then, are a deliverance from the corruptions of the world and a participation of the purity of God. What this corruption is need scarcely be described. Men by their concupiscence and ungoverned passions corrupt each other. The Divine nature stands opposed to all this corruption. We are to be holy as God is holy.

1. That this is the direct tendency of the Divine promises may appear, first, from the consideration that it is in the view of His love and grace as displayed in the gospel of His Son, which God is pleased chiefly to employ to win the heart to His service.

2. The assurances of assistance offered to us in the promises tend also directly to promote holiness. The promise of forgiveness excites us to forsake sin; the promise of inward grace to mortify it.

3. Again, the condition annexed to the promises make them the powerful means of producing in us conformity to the Divine nature. These are frequently expressed. To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God. The meek will He guide in judgment.

4. But I ask once more, What is the matter of God's promises — what are the blessings themselves which they hold out to us? Do they not all either imply holy obedience or directly include it? Repentance, faith, love, joy, hope, peace, strength, communion with God, are subjects of the promises; and what are these but parts of sanctification?

5. I ask, again, what are the direct and necessary effects of such promises, when they are received? They are the nutriment of faith which worketh by love. They inspire hope which purifies the heart even as God is pure. They work therefore not as an opiate to stupefy, but as a medicine to restore. And all this they do, not by a mere natural process, but by the gracious appointment of God.

III. THE TEST WHICH IT FURNISHES OF OUR STATE BEFORE GOD. If men will put a general notion of God's mercy in the place of His promises; if they will substitute a form of godliness for a Divine nature, and a mere decency and good order before others, for an "escape from the corruption which is in the world through lust," they must perish.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

Did you ever hear the story how, once upon a, time, a dove moaned and mourned to her fellow-birds of the tyranny of the hawk — the dove's great foe? One advised her to keep below; but the hawk can stoop for his prey. Another said, Soar aloft; but the hawk could soar as high as she could. Another said, Fly to the woods; but the woods are the very palace and court of the cruel hawk; safety could not be found there. And another said, Fly to the towns; but there she was in danger of being caught by man, who might even make her a sport for the hawk. At last one said, Fly to the holes of the rocks. Violence cannot surprise the dove there. Thus it is with the soul of man distressed and fearful. Come to me, says Riches, and I will shelter you. No, Wealth is only the devil's lure, and, by and by, his rein and his spur. Conic to me, says Pleasure; but she is the very Delilah of the soul, to betray you to the Philistines. Honour says, Come to me; but there is no assurance in any of these. No. Oh, ye that dwell in cities and repose in wealth or pleasure or honour, there is safety in Jesus or nowhere. "Leave the cities and dwell in the rock — in the Rock of Ages — fly to the promises, and be like the dove that maketh her nest by the side of the hole's mouth."

I. CONSIDER THE PROMISES. Ah, if we practically realised the might, the majesty, and the meaning of God's promises, how happy they would often make us l The astronomer, when he knows that the hour of the planet draws nigh, prepares his glasses and climbs his highest towers, and through its bright farseeing eyes he watches and he waits till he beholds it come labouring along its infinite way. And when it has shone through the darkness its hour or its season, then it fades down again into the darkness till another season shall come, and, perhaps, another astronomer hails its beams. So the promises of God are made to conditions, and they shine like constellations. Oh, sweet garden of the promises! But are they not rather like trees — exceeding great and precious promises? It seems to me, when I study the life of the promises, I come as into a vast and stately forest, planted by the glorious men of God in old time by His will and word; and they are, "the fir tree, the pine, and the box together." There are the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted; and, like all trees, they are fit for meditation and fruit and use. How cool it is to walk amongst the promises! They are quiet places, and sacred and secret ways, where God, in an especial manner, meets with man's soul. When the glorious sun strikes down, how the promises stretch out their cool arms; and when storms are in the heavens they cannot strike through these boughs. And so every promise conceals or reveals some biography — some way of God in a human soul. Poor Bilney, that noble martyr, lost all comfort after he had recanted till he found the words, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Beza found the life of his hope in words which I can never forget: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Some of the fathers divided the promises into Pabulum fidei, and Anima fidei — "Food of faith," and the "Soul of faith." "Oh, thou of little faith," see yonder is the state; but do you not see the sunshine falling over it? — those arrowy flakes of gold, they are the promises — the exceeding great and precious promises: when you come to that darkness, fear not, but you shall inherit that light.

II. EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS. Do but think how wonderful it is that God should make Himself known by man. And all God's works are promises. They are tokens of holiness, and wisdom, and faithfulness. Why do you plant an acorn? Does it not contain a promise? Infinite value is placed here. And methinks if we did but read the works and ways of God in nature aright we should see everywhere the promise of our future. Oh, when I can stand on the great mountain chains of the Bible, what a view I have! And do not promises strengthen? Our whole life is maintained by promise. Without promise we should sink into the deepest places of despair. We need spiritual tonics. We need them to destroy our unhealthy consciousness, which is only another name for weakness. And how glorious that, by these promises, we are able to look beyond the tomb; yes, by them we escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and see our fair inheritance there. But remember one great condition by which you know your relation to the promise — "escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust." Here, you see, is the great condition. Have you escaped the corruption? Till you breathe in purer air you cannot expect to breathe the sweetness of this promise. Obedience first, then recompense.

(E. P. Hood.)

I. Their greatness will appear if we consider THEIR AUTHOR. They derive importance and value from the holiness of God in all its glory, from His justice in all its inflexibility. Finally, they must derive importance from His infinite benevolence and mercy in which they originated, of which they are the magnificent expression and all the resources of which they open. Is there not an important sense, then, in which these promises are as precious, as great as God is glorious? Those, therefore, who neglect them despise Jehovah Himself when making the most interesting appeals to their hearts, and involve themselves in guilt and wickedness proportionable to the glories of the Divine character.

II. The greatness and value of the promises will appear if we consider them in their own NATURE AND PROPERTIES, or, if we attend to THEIR INTRINSIC WORTH. In estimating the value of promises, this is the chief consideration. No matter what may be the rank or character of the promiser, or what the relation in which he stands to us. The promise cannot be denominated great and precious if it relates to an insignificant object or to one that does not meet our exigencies. The great consideration here is: suppose the promises to be accomplished, and all the good that is contained in them enjoyed, will all our capacities be filled? Shall we be completely delivered from all dangers and enemies? Shall we be raised to the perfection of our nature? If so, but not otherwise, the promises, the value of which we are endeavouring to estimate, are exceeding great and precious. Now, tried by this criterion, the promises to which the apostle refers will appear to be fully entitled to the epithets under consideration. For when they are all accomplished in heaven, what want will remain unsupplied? what capacity unfilled, even to overflowing? what danger or enemy will threaten, what desirable good will not be possessed? What will then be wanting to complete the dignity and happiness of human nature?

III. Consider THE MEDIUM through which these promises have been made, or the way in which these blessings are secured and conferred, and they, too, will show that they are indeed exceeding great and precious. "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," and, therefore, making all the promises through Him. "All the promises of God are in Him yea, and in Him Amen." They are all made and confirmed in Him. In Him who, though He was the brightness of His Father's glory, and the express image of His Person, the Lord, the Creator of angels, and the object of their worship, became the Babe of Bethlehem, the sufferer on the Cross. In Him who, by the exercise of every grace of which innocent human nature is capable, and the performance of every duty in their very perfection, and that in the most difficult circumstances, met all the demands of an absolutely perfect law. In Him, who, by making His life, His blood, His soul an offering for sin by drinking, to the very dregs, the bitter cup of Divine wrath, secured all the blessings contained in the promises.

IV. Consider THE NUMBER AND VARIETY of the promises. We have given to us not an exceeding great and precious promise merely, but exceeding great and precious promises relating to all the endless variety of the believer's wants and circumstances and dangers and duties: to prosperity and to adversity, to the body and to the soul, to time and to eternity, to earth and to heaven.

V. Consider next THE SUITABLENESS of these promises, and this, too, will prove that they are exceeding great and precious. A promise may be valuable in itself, and as it regards the blessing which it exhibits; and yet it may be to the individuals to whom it is made of no importance because it is not suitable to their circumstances. How valuable to some would be the promise of a large sum of money, of a rich and extensive estate, of a crown! What are they to the man who is the victim of a mortal disease, who has only a few moments longer to live? "Behold, he is at the point to die," and what are riches and crowns to him? How valuable is a promise of pardon to a convicted and condemned malefactor! But what is it to the man who glories in his innocence and virtue and claims the protection of the law, and the blessings of life as his right? But the promises of the gospel are as suitable to our circumstances as they are great and wonderful in themselves. They secure light to those who are in darkness, and rich supplies to those who are perishing of hunger, and pardon to those who are guilty and condemned.

VI. Consider THE IMMUTABILITY of these promises, and this will show that they are exceeding great and precious. How inexcusable, then, is unbelief!

VII. On account of THEIR INFLUENCE the promises may well be denominated exceeding great and precious. The promises of men often exert an injurious influence on those to whom they are made. They dazzle the eyes of the mind, enkindle a flame of unhallowed feelings, lead astray from the path of duty, and thus prove the most dangerous temptations to sin. How many have been led by them to act a foolish, a base, a disgraceful part! By seeking the honour that comes from men they have lost all the honour that comes from God. But the influence of the promises of the gospel is always beneficial. They ever enlighten and sanctify and stimulate to act wise and noble part. This must be the case, for they make those who embrace them partakers of the Divine nature and keep from the corruption that is in the world through lust. Now we may infer from what has been advanced —

1. That the Bible is an exceedingly great and precious book, for it contains all these promises.

2. We may learn whether or not we are personally, actually interested in these promises.

3. How great the folly and guilt, how wretched the state of those who despise all these promises and reject all these blessings!

4. Remember that the Bible contains not only exceeding great and precious promises, but exceedingly great and terrible threatenings, and the latter are as dreadful as the former are glorious.

(W. Scott.)

I. THE MEANS whereby God conveys His grace to us, viz., the promises of the gospel.

1. Their excellency is set forth by two adjuncts. They are "exceeding great and precious." The one noteth their intrinsic worth and value; they are "exceeding great." The other, our esteem of them; they deserve to be "precious" to us.

2. Their freeness: "given," made freely, made good freely.

II. THE END and use of them: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature; that is, the communicable excellence of God.

1. Because these are communicated to us by God; they are created in us by His Divine power. We have them by virtue of our communion with Him. They flow from God, as the light doth from the sun.

2. Because by these perfections we somewhat resemble God. Therefore it is said (1 Peter 2:9), "We show forth His praises," His virtues or Divine attributes, His "wisdom, goodness, bounty, holiness"; for in these we most resemble Him.

III. THE WAY, METHOD, AND ORDER how we receive this benefit of the Divine nature. "Having first escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." As we die to sin, the Divine nature increaseth in us. There is a putting off before there can be a putting on (Ephesians 4:22-24).

1. What is to be avoided: "The corruption that is in the world through lust." Observe, sin is called "corruption" as often in Scripture, because it is a blasting of our primitive excellency and purity (Genesis 6:12; Psalm 14:1). Observe, the seat of this corruption is said to be in the world, where lust and all uncleanness reigneth, therefore called "the pollutions of the world" (chap. 2 Peter 2:20). The generality of men are defiled with them, corrupted in their faith, worship, and manners; therefore conversion is called for under these terms (Acts 2:40). Lastly, observe that this corruption is said to reign in the world "through lust." Besides the bait there is the appetite; it is our naughty affections that make our abode in the world dangerous.

2. The manner of shunning, in the word escaping. There is a flying away required, and that quickly, as in the plague, or from a fire which hath almost burned us, or a flood that breaketh in upon us. We cannot soon enough escape from sin (Matthew 3:7; Hebrews 6:18). No motion but flight becomes us in this case. Doctrine: That the great end and effect of the promises of the gospel is to make us partakers of the Divine nature.

I. Let us consider the effect or end.

1. That it is a natural, not a transient effect. There may be such a sense of the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as may produce a sudden passion; as suppose of fear or love. It may only affect us for the present, but inferreth no change of heart and life. But the promises of the gospel are to breed in us such a temper of heart as may be a second nature to us, a habit or constitution of soul that may incline us to live to God. A habit serveth for this use, that a man may act easily, pleasantly, and constantly.(1) To act easily. There is an inclination and propensity to holiness.(2) To act pleasantly. They have not only a new bias and tendency, but it is a delight to do what is holy (Psalm 40:8), as being in their element when they are thus employed.(3) It is a constant principle of holy operations, so that a man doth not only obey God easily, but evenly, and without such frequent interruptions of the holy life.

2. It is a Divine nature; that is, not only such as floweth from God, but may carry some resemblance with Him or to Him. It floweth from God, for we are "partakers"; it is but a ray from His excellency, and it carrieth a likeness to Him, or cometh nearer to the nature of God Himself than anything that a man is capable of. Now this is said for two reasons —(1) To show the dignity of it. Nothing known to man is so like 'God as a sanctified soul. The saints have their Maker's express image; therefore if God be excellent and holy, they are so. The image and picture of God and Christ is in them, not made by a painter or carver, but by the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 3:18).(2) To show the quality and condition of it. You must have a new nature, and such a nature as may be a Divine nature. If you have nothing above natural men or corrupt nature, you are strangers to the promises of the gospel.

3. This Divine nature may be considered three ways. Either —(1) As begun; when we are first "renewed in the spirit of our minds," and regenerated "according to the image of God" (Ephesians 4:23, 24).(2) As increased; when more like God in a conspicuous degree.(3) As it is perfected in heaven; for there we have the nearest communion with God, and so the highest conformity to Him that we are capable of (1 John 3:2).

II. Let us now see the means by which God doth accomplish this effect: "To us are given great and precious promises."

1. It is an instance of God's love, that He will deal with us in the way of promises.(1) A promise is more than a purpose; for the purpose and intention of a man is secret and hidden in his own bosom, but a promise is open and manifest. Thereby we get the knowledge of the good intended to us.(2) It is more than a doctrinal declaration. It is one thing to reveal a doctrine, another to promise a benefit; that maketh a thing known, this maketh a thing sure, and upon certain terms; that gives us notice, but this gives us interest.(3) It is more than a prophecy or simple prediction. Scripture prophecies will be fulfilled because of God's veracity; but Scripture promises will be fulfilled, not only because of God's veracity, but also His fidelity and justice; for by God's promise man cometh to have a right to the thing promised.

2. The promises of the new covenant are of a most glorious and valuable nature. They are not about small things, or things of little moment, but about worthy and dear-bought blessings.

3. They are precious promises, worthy of our esteem; for they are not about things that we have nothing to do with, but such wherein we are deeply and intimately concerned. In God's promises there is due provision made for the desires, necessities, and wants of mankind.

4. All this is given to us wretched men without any desert of ours; nay, we had deserved the contrary.

III. The influence of the one upon the other; or, how do these promises promote the Divine nature?

1. From their drift, which is, to draw us from the creature to God, and the world to heaven; to mortify the esteem of the false happiness which corrupteth our natures; and to raise us to those noble objects and ends which dignify and adorn the soul, and make it in a sort Divine. It breedeth an excellent spirit in us, which is carried above the world, and the hopes and fears of it (1 Corinthians 2:12).

2. The matter of the promises. Many of which concern the change of our hearts, the cleansing or healing of our natures (Hebrews 8:10; Ezekiel 36:25, 26; Jeremiah 33:8).

3. The conditions or terms on which our right is suspended. Not pardon without repentance (Acts 3:19). Not heaven or eternal life without holiness (Hebrews 12:14).

4. The power with which the promises are accompanied (Colossians 1:3). The Divine nature is communicated to us by virtue of the promises; for the Spirit is our sanctifier, and He works by congruous means.

Use 1. Believe the promises, for they are most sure and certain. God's testimony of the good things He will bestow upon us cannot deceive us, or beget a vain and uncertain hope.

Use 2. Esteem them (Hebrews 11:13).

Use 3. Labour to improve the belief of every promise for the increase of holiness, that we may be like God, pure and holy as He is (2 Corinthians 7:1).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. First, THE SOURCE of all the promises is shown by this same apostle to be "the abundant mercy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:3-5). By whatever name called, in whatever dispensation or method made known, the "abundant mercy" of the ever-blessed God has been the great original, only source of promise to man.

II. THEIR CHARACTER. They are "exceeding great," or, as the Rhemish version literally translates it, "most great." As the announcements of Divine mercy concerning the provisions of redemption for man, we may expect the promises to be so great as to meet all the wants and woes of our fallen nature.

1. One wide, deep, and long-felt want of our spiritual nature is — "light." The most enlightened Pagans but guessed at immortality, and felt after the true God among a rabble of false ones. Need I point out to you how Jesus Christ is thus "the Desire of all nations"? "To Him," as the true Light, "gave all the prophets witness." Pleasant to the eyes, cheering to the heart, indispensable to labour, assuring to the traveller, longed for by the watchman, an indispensable condition of all healthy growth, and therefore of life, light is in every language the symbol of truth; and as Jesus Christ is "the brightness of the Father's glory," so His gospel is "the light of lights" in all these respects to believing souls.

2. Another deep-felt want of the human soul is the craving for "peace with God." Wherever the religious instincts have been awakened, their most poignant conscious ness has been that of guilt, a dread of the Invisible, and "a fearful looking for of judgment." Hence all the self-torments of superstition, and the altars and offerings of Paganism, past and present. And of all the promises of God, none are more "exceeding great and precious" than those which invite, intreat, "beseech men to be reconciled unto God," on the ground of the great propitiation of Jesus Christ for sin. They are more precious than the royal warrant that releases the death-doomed culprit; they are our passport and safe-conduct into present safety and eternal life.

3. Thus we might proceed in regard to every want of the human spirit. Does the quickened soul pant for self-harmony and purity, crying, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me"? Then one of a thousand promises uttered from the heart of God replies, "I will sprinkle dean water upon you; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you; a new heart will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you."

4. Does the heart, pre-designed for Divine love and fellowship, feel restless for its adapted element — a good which it knows not, and without which it must inly burn and pine for ever? To all this multitude of weary, feverish souls there comes from the Father of spirits such exceeding great and precious promises as these: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters: and he that hath no money, come."

5. Again, does the universal soul of man believe in and anticipate immortal life? Does the savage from his instincts, and the sage from his reasonings, expect to live for ever? Does even the bad man inly shudder at the prospect of annihilation, and the good man long for immortality? Then the certainty, the nature, and the path of endless life are the subject-matter of transcendently "great and precious promises."

6. Finally, as to the wants of the soul and their Divinely promised supply. The life and immortality — rather incorruptibility — brought to light by the promises of the gospel meet another demand of our nature — "the resurrection from the dead." And are they not "precious" — "precious" as the free pledges of sovereign, paternal, everlasting grace? — "precious" as the fruits of Jesus' death-enduring love? — "precious" as the subject of the Comforter's ministry to the heart, and the medium of His sanctifying energy therein? They are precious for their past beneficent history in healing wounded spirits and raising fainting hearts. Their greatness and preciousness have been in part realised by the first advent of Christ and this present "dispensation of the Spirit." This, however, is but the introduction to the vast volume of "good things yet to come." The sons of God are now adopted, but not manifested.

III. This is rendered still more evident by THE DESIGN of the promises: "That we might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

1. This declaration inevitably implies that man has lost that participation in the Divine nature which is called "the image of God," and which consisted in "spiritual knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness."

2. It also implies that there is in man's nature, however fallen, a constitutional capacity (though we know, alas! a deep disinclination) to receive back and reflect the moral character of God.

3. It suggests that all the needful influences are given by the God of the promises, and lie within our reach for the recovery of the Divine nature; and that God holds us responsible for the earnest, prayerful use of those gracious means whereby we may grow into His likeness, and ascend to fellowship with Himself.

4. And this involves most inspiring views of what redeemed humanity may attain even on earth, much more in heaven.

5. This fellowship with God is the only means of escaping the infectious pollutions of moral evil that abound in the world on every side, and that spring from the desires of the heart turned from God to impure and forbidden objects.

6. The promises, then, are indispensable to the attainment of this end. They reveal the "Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness," and assure the gift of the Holy Spirit to renew and inhabit the soul.

(John Graham.)

What is the "whereby" with which the passage commences? designating, as it appears to do, some channel of communication. There are here several antecedents to which the "whereby" may be grammatically referred; but, without examining a variety of critical opinions, it appears to me the most obvious course to take the concluding words, "glory and virtue," as the antecedent which we are in search of; "the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue; whereby" — that is, through which glory and virtue — "are given to us exceeding great and precious promises." We are called to glory and to virtue — to a warfare that is full of honour, but at the same time full of difficulty, requiring much wisdom and vigour in the combatant. If we obey this calling, and throw ourselves into the conflict, then the struggle in which we are engaged will be the best witness that we are the elect of the Most High. Having this witness, we possess an assurance that the promises of the Bible are spoken specially to ourselves. Now, having thus cleared up the connection between the text and the context, it still remains that I vindicate the description that is here made of the promises given in the Bible. Yet, can this be necessary? If there be a spiritual solicitude for which the Bible contains not a word in season; if there be a doubt which is left without a message to disperse it; if there be an anxiety which is passed by without a whisper to soothe it; and if there be a tear which it dries not; then I will give up the description, and pronounce it overdrawn. But in nothing has God so manifested His wisdom as in the precision with which His Word meets the wants of His people. It were idle to attempt to descend into particulars. Exceedingly great are the promises of the Bible; great in their sweep, for they leave no circumstance unattended to; great in their power, for they bring all the magnificence of eternity to bear on the solicitudes of time. And precious are the promises, as well as great. He who can appropriate them has blessings which no arithmetic can reckon, a security which no contingency can shake, and a help which never can be without use. But there is no need that I insist further on the character that the text gives of the promises. Those who have proved them acknowledge them to be "exceeding great and precious"; they who have proved them not, want, alas! the spiritual ardour by which their character is to be discerned, and are therefore not to be convinced by the most elaborate description. We all profess to believe that once on the earth the spectacle was exhibited of the human nature adopted into union with the Divine. There was the perfect instance of one of our race being made partaker of the Divine nature: I need scarcely add that the instance will stand for ever by itself; and that the sense in which we alone can share in the nature of God differs from that in which Christ Jesus had share. He had it in essence — we in conformity; He by being God — we only by being renewed after the image of God. The Greek might more strictly be rendered "partakers of a Divine nature," and not of the Divine nature. Now, the point which yet remains to be investigated, is the agency of the promises in effecting such a change; for, you will observe, that whilst partaking of the Divine nature is the result, the promises are the means through which it is brought about. "Exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature." The machinery exhibited in the Bible when a spiritual transformation is in question, is the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the blessed Trinity. We may be assured, therefore, that when any other machinery is brought on the stage, we are to understand that it is effectual, not through its inherent energies, but only through its being actuated by that Agent. The promises in themselves have no power to animate; but if I believe in the promise, then the promise becomes a quickening thing; and that which as spoken was merely sound that melted into air. is now a radiant star which rules me and guides me by the brilliancy of its light. We shall take for granted, in all we say of the power of the promises, that the power is derived from faith, and faith from the Holy Ghost; and we go on to show in the first place the power which promises wield over men in ordinary things, and in the second place, the influence which they exert over Christians in particular. If you took a rapid survey of the various classes and occupations of men, you would find that almost every one is submitting himself to the power of promise. If you enter the crowded marts of commerce, or pass through the courtly circles of ambition, or sit with the student in his secluded chamber, or accompany the dissolute into the haunts of pleasure, the same pursuit is in each case carried on; they are all hunting after some fancied good, which, though it may cheat them at last, engages them at present. Some busy spirit has been whispering into the ear of every man whom you meet, that if he will but follow this course, or that course, he shall attain the object of his desire. And the greatest marvel is, that although the experience of successive ages has shown there is a lie in each of these promises, they nevertheless attain the same credit as ever. If it could, however, come suddenly to pass that an arrest was put on this circulation of promise, there would be an instant standstill in the busy scenes of human occupation. And I need hardly point out how amplified would be the power of promise if there were anything like an assurance of fulfilment. If men can do such things on chance, what will they do on certainty? Now I turn from this rapid survey of the power which promise wields over men in general; and I ask you whether, if you turn the uncertainty of promise into certainty, you may not expect to find the power a thousand times greater which is wielded over Christians in particular? The defects in promise are here done away With; the result which is desired not only may take place, but shall take place. And if a promise, which is both indefinite in its terms and insecure in its pledges, be the efficient thing we have already described, who shall marvel that where the terms are the noblest, and the pledges are the strongest, it shall lead those who believe to work out their salvation with the fear and trembling of men who know themselves to have eternity at stake? I will seek, however, to dissect this point a little more nicely; for it is both of interest and importance. Escaping the pollution that is in the world, we account to be the same thing as being made partakers of the Divine nature. It is by escaping pollution, by withdrawing from the trammels and habits of sinfulness, that this partnership in the celestial character is procured; and if we can show that it is by the promises that pollution is escaped, it will follow that it is through the promises that conformity to the Divine nature is attained. But whether it be by promises or by threatenings that the work is commenced, assuredly it is by promise that the work is carried on. Is the believer disheartened when he considers the might of his spiritual enemies? the promise is kindly whispered, "God shall bruise Satan under thy feet shortly." He takes courage, and wrestles with the enemy. Is he confounded at the view of indwelling corruption? "God will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear." Are kinsmen and friends alienated from him on account of his profession of godliness? What sustains him but this? — "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Does prayer seem unanswered? "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart." Do sorrows seem multiplied? "All things work together for good to them that love God." Is his progress in the life of faith scarcely perceptible? Where God hath begun a good work, He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. You see, then, that promises are mighty engines in the hands of God's Spirit. It is by these souls are animated to prayer; it is by these they are prepared for warfare; it is by these they are warmed in love; it is by these they are cheered on in their way after holiness.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

What makes a promise precious?

1. The thing promised must be valuable.

2. He who promises must be truthful.

3. He who promises must be able to perform.

(W. Lawson, D. D.)

Homilist.
Christianity is a system of promises. Even its doctrines and precepts may be regarded as promises. These promises are "exceedingly great" in their nature, variety, and influences; they are exceedingly "precious" too; — precious essentially and relatively in themselves and in their bearings on man.

I. THESE PROMISES TEND TO ASSIMILATE US TO GOD BY GIVING US AN ATTRACTIVE VIEW OF HIS CHARACTER. Two thoughts will illustrate this point: —

1. Man's moral character is formed on the principle of imitation. There are two wrong developments of this instinct.

(1)When it is directed to the natural peculiarities of others.

(2)When directed to the moral faults of others.

2. Man's imitation is ever directed to that which seems to him beautiful. He will not copy that which appears to him unamiable, unlovely, repulsive. If the Infinite appear to us supremely lovely, He will by the laws of our imitative nature mould us into His own image. Now His promises give us this attractive view of Him. A sincere promise reveals the author's disposition. If the promise is trifling where there are large resources, it indicates a stingy soul, and the reverse. A sincere promise reveals the author's resources. If great things are promised, the possession of great things are implied. According to these criteria, what infinite kindness and inexhaustible resources do the promises of God reveal!

II. THESE PROMISES TEND TO ASSIMILATE US TO HIM BY BRINGING US INTO PERSONAL CONTACT WITH HIS CHARACTER. We must be with a being to become like him. Fellowship is absolutely indispensable. There is on the one hand a giving, and on the other a perpetual receiving. Thus the two are brought together. Both minds meet, as it were, in the promise,

III. THESE PROMISES TEND TO ASSIMILATE US TO HIM BY GIVING US A LIVING INTEREST IN HIS CHARACTER.

(Homilist.)

I. IN THE DIVINE NATURE ARE ATTRIBUTES PROPERLY INCOMMUNICABLE; SUCH AS CANNOT, IN THE NATURE OF THINGS, BE IMPARTED; SUCH AS CANNOT BE EVEN IMITATED BY CREATURES. It is peculiar to Him to exist in and from Himself; while a creature is a dependent being, and ever must remain so. It is peculiar to Him to be from everlasting to everlasting. It is peculiar to Him to have supreme dominion. Absolute perfection, that which is liable to no injury, admits of no diminution, is capable of no advancement, is peculiar to Him. Finite cannot equal infinite. It is, then, in moral attributes that we are to look for this participation of the Divine nature; in those which, indeed, constitute the very glory of that nature; the others being adorable as they are exercised and employed by a perfect wisdom, rectitude, and love. But let it be here observed that the promise is not that we shall be raised into something like God; sonic mere imitation of what is morally perfect in Him. We are to be partakers of the Divine nature. There is to be a communication on the part of God, and a reception on our own, of those principles on which all that is pure and holy in God may be said to depend; a communication continued to us, on which the growth and permanency of those principles rest. The moral nature of God, thus to be participated by believers, may be summed up in the three terms.

1. Knowledge. The power of knowing is the property of spiritual beings. It is not merely to perceive in the low degree which belongs to irrational animals, but to apprehend, to remember, to compare, to infer, and from particular to bring out general truths, which are to be laid up in the mind for meditation or action. This knowledge is the knowledge of things as good or evil, as right or wrong, as tending or not tending to our own happiness, and that of the whole creation. Infinitely perfect is this knowledge in God. And by the indwelling of His teaching Spirit, opening these truths to our mind, and rendering us discerning to apply them, He makes us partake, in our degree, of His own knowledge, His infallible judgment of things. Then it is that we walk in the light. We find a sure way for our feet, and so are enabled tot escape the snares of death.

2. Holiness. This is essential to God. It is that principle in Him, whatever it may be, which has led Him to prescribe justice, mercy, and truth, and to prohibit their contraries under penalties so severe; that principle, which is more than a mere approval of the things which He enjoins; which makes Him love righteousness. The holiness of a creature as to actions is, conformity to the will of God, which is the visible declaration of His holy nature. That conformity implies justice, a rendering to all their due; a large duty, referring not only to man, but likewise to God, to whom are to be given the honour and worship He requires from us: perfect truth and sincerity in everything, so that all outward acts shall concur with the heart, and the heart with them; and the strict regulation of every temper and appetite, so that they may be kept within the bounds prescribed, beyond which they become impurity and sin. But there must be principle from which all this must flow, or it is only external and imitative; and that principle is found only in the new man, that which conies from this participation of the Divine nature.

3. But the Divine nature is love. Who can doubt this when he sees the happiness of the creatures so manifestly the end of their creation? when we can trace all misery to another source? when we see the mercies He mixes with His judgments, always bringing some good out of evil? when He spared not His own Son, but gave Him freely for us all?

II. We observe, THAT THE VALUE OF THE PROMISES OF THE GOSPEL IS SPECIALLY DISPLAYED BY THEIR CONNECTION WITH THIS END. "There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature." To raise men to this state is matter of promise, and therefore of grace. We might have been left to the sin and degradation we had sought. And the promises thus given to us, all of them suppose the covenant of grace. And when we consider their great design to make us partakers of the Divine nature, how clearly and brightly does it display their value! They appear to us of unspeakable value; "exceeding great and precious."

1. They are so in respect of the honour which this great attainment puts on man.

2. Consider this value in respect to interest. What is the real interest of man but the attainment of the favour and image of God?

3. Consider this value in.respect of peace. There can be no peace to the wicked. Every evil brings its own punishment with it in the disquietude which it occasions.

4. Consider this value in respect of usefulness. Knowledge is a powerful instrument of God when prompted by benevolence and sustained by consistency of character. And where there is this participation of the Divine nature, there we find all these elements of usefulness, knowledge, holiness, and love.

5. And lastly, consider this value in reference to hope.

(R. Watson.)

That by these ye might he partakers of the Divine nature. —
The keynote of the passage is the word "Divine," which occupies so conspicuous a place at the commencement and the close. To the momentous questions, What is the source and what the nature of true religion? the sum briefly is — It is a Divine life. Its source is traced to the Divine power of the Mediator, and on its features are stamped the impress of the Divine image.

1. Life and godliness is a comprehensive and practical description of true religion. Life alone, in Scripture, often describes the state of grace, and sums up all the blessings of salvation (1 John 5:12; Acts 5:20). Godliness, also, by itself, often denotes the whole of religion — the whole life of faith (1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:7). Employed together they modify each other's meaning, and give completeness to the delineation of the Christian life. Life points out its inward source in the heart, godliness its outward manifestations in conduct and character. Be it ours to seek this life. Filled with it, it will show itself in the blossoms and fruits of godliness, And, let us not forget, that if there is no godliness of conduct or character, we want the only sure evidence that life from on high has descended into our souls.

2. Have I escaped from the corruption that is in the world? Worldly life apart from God, and opposed to God, is moral and spiritual death; in its most refined as well as in its grosser forms, in its intellectual as well as in its sensual enjoyments, it has the taint of corruption. Its maxims and morality are unsound. The tie that binds us to the world and its corruption is the corruption of our own hearts. That removed, the magnetic attraction of evil is broken. The world and the renewed nature have no affinity, but repel each other. Like the occupant of the diving-bell, breathing air which is replenished and purified by constant supplies from above, and which, by its elastic force, keeps out the water which presses on every side; so the Christian, breathing the vital air of a heaven-derived life, moves unharmed in the midst of the world's corruption; surrounding him on every side, it cannot overwhelm.

3. Partakers of the Divine nature! At that momentous change, variously spoken of as a resurrection from the dead, as a new creation, as regeneration, there is communicated to the soul a Divine principle of life which, through grace, gradually transforms the whole man. Nothing less will do as a commencing point for the Christian life as a foundation on which to build a new and Godlike character. By God's overruling providence and restraining grace and favourable circumstances the worst outbreaks of sin are often prevented, as by the physician's skill the maladies of an unsound constitution may be mitigated. But only by a renewal of the soul, by the communication of the life of God, can we obtain true spiritual health and vigour. Christ then becomes our life. We are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and thus are made partakers of the Divine nature in the only sense possible for creatures. But the fellowship of the renewed soul with God is also embraced in that participation of the Divine nature of which the apostle speaks. Converse with God is the highest bliss of which we are capable. The life that has descended from God into our hearts rises up to Him again in desire and love, and the new nature in us subsists by communion with the source whence it is derived.

(W. Wilson, M. A.)

I. THE SCRIPTURES OFTEN DECLARE THIS TO BE A PRINCIPAL DESIGN OF THE DIVINE PROMISES. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Whatever is necessary to encourage, to cheer, to strengthen, to prompt in the course of holy obedience, is derived by constant appeals and illustrations from the promises of God.

II. WE ARGUE THE SAME THING FROM THE CHARACTER OF MAN AS A MORAL BEING, AND THE PURPOSE OF GOD TOWARD HIM. The great purpose of God toward man is to perfect his moral character through moral influence. But where is this influence furnished? in what are these motives presented, if not in the blessings promised as the reward of obedience? If God by these promises intended merely to comfort His people by quieting their fears and awakening their hopes, why are not His promises absolute and unconditional securities?

III. FROM THE DIRECT PRACTICAL TENDENCY OF THE PROMISES OF GOD. There is no higher evidence of the design to be answered by the appointments of God than the true tendency of such appointments.

1. Such is the tendency of the Divine promises, as they remove every obstacle to personal holiness. To rouse man to holy activity the promise of God is indispensable. You may show him an opening hell, but without a promise revealing a pardoning God and opening heaven he will never stir. With such promises all the hopelessness and despair of escaping the curse is taken away by the assurance of favour and reward to obedience. Without the promises there would remain also another obstacle of paralysing influence — the impracticability of obedience without the grace of God. But with the promise of a faithful God sounding in his ears, "My grace is sufficient for thee," how will he rise, as it were, in the consciousness of that strength, which shall be perfected in his weakness, and enter the career of obedience with the inspiration of hope!

2. This tendency is apparent in the nature of the blessings promised. Whether we look at the general or specific nature of the Divine promises we see that they cannot become effectual as motives without producing holiness. What are the promises of God? Peace of conscience is promised. But who can think of escaping the reproaches of this inward monitor except by the practice of holiness? Is justification unto life promised? But who can be influenced by this blessing as a motive, and still wish to incur the guilt and the condemnation of sin? Is heaven promised? but what is there in heaven but an influence of transformation into the likeness of the God who reigns there?

3. The same tendency is apparent in the circumstances or mode of the Divine promises. Such is the manner of God's promises as to secure to the utmost their full energy on the soul. While the holiness of man is their ultimate end, there is no sensibility or interest of man to which they do not appeal, and aim to render subservient to that end. They create no interference, but insure a perfect coincidence between man's temporal and eternal well-being.

4. The same tendency is apparent from the number and magnitude of the blessings promised.Remarks:

1. We see the error of those who aim to derive comfort only from the Divine promises. To say nothing of the prostration of the Divine law thus involved, the notion is a direct perversion of the very promises of God, which are pleaded as its warrant. Where is the promise of life except to patient continuance in well-doing? Others there are who make the application of the promises to depend on the belief of their own personal interest in them, us if to believe one's self to be interested in the promises of God really made us so. This perversion is equally gross. The promises of God given to promote holiness, and made to nothing but holiness, do these secure an interest in their blessings to him who has no holiness? There is yet another error nearly allied to these, and still more common. There are those who, though they deny not that the only warrant for the hopes of the gospel is obedience to the gospel, yet seem practically to disregard the conviction. Their concern is to discover the evidence of an interest in the promises, rather than to create that evidence, by increasing their holiness.

2. How great are the obligations of the people of God to holy obedience!

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

Not that we can partake of the essence and nature of God, as some have blasphemously affirmed. For this would be for men to become gods, and to be advanced to the state and perfection of the Deity.

I. BY WAY OF INTERNAL EFFICACY AND ASSISTANCE. And this influence the promise of God's Holy Spirit, and of His gracious help, hath upon the minds of men, inclining them to that which is good, and enabling them to do it. For the Holy Spirit is promised to us, in consideration and commiseration of that impotency which we have contracted.

II. BY WAY OF MOTIVE AND ARGUMENT, to encourage us to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God." For —

1. A full pardon and indemnity for what is past is a mighty encouragement for us to return to our duty, and a forcible argument to keep us to it for the future.

2. The promise of God's grace and Holy Spirit is likewise a very powerful encouragement to holiness, encouraging us hereto by this consideration, that we have so unerring a guide to counsel and direct us, so powerful an assistant to "strengthen us with all might in the inner man."

3. The promise of eternal life and happiness, if duly considered, hath a mighty force in it, to take us off from the love and practice of sin, and to encourage our obedience and patient continuance in well-doing.All that now remains is to make some useful reflections upon what hath been discoursed upon these two heads.

1. If we expect the benefits of these exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, we must be careful to perform the conditions which are indispensably required on our parts.

2. From hence we learn that if the promises of the gospel have not this effect upon us, to make us partakers of a Divine nature, it is our own fault, and because we are wanting to ourselves.

3. If the promises of the Christian religion are apt in their own nature to work this great effect upon us, to make us like to God, to make us good, and just, and merciful, how doth this upbraid the degenerate state of the Christian world at this day, which does so abound in all kind of wickedness and impiety; so that we may cry out, upon reading the gospel: "Either this is not the gospel which we read and the Christian religion which we profess, or we are no Christians."

(Abp. Tillotson.)

"Partakers of the Divine nature," which is to say, taking part in the Divine nature. Not simply like God, but in a way shareholders in Him; something, possibly, as the waves of the sea are partakers in the sea, something, it may be, as the leaves of a tree share in the life of the tree. We are not afraid of widening out the area of our humanity along the line of its upward frontier. Man differs in one very peculiar regard from the brute; not only in moving in a higher range of life and experience, but in not being tethered to any fixed condition. The brute is a brute, and always a brute. Improve your dog, and he will still be brutal; debase your dog, and he will still be brutal, and evince no symptoms of dropping to a lower grade of being. Once a dog, always a dog! On the contrary, there is a just sense in which you can say of humanity, that it is not so much a condition as it is a position of poise between two alternative conditions. It is like standing at the halfway point on the Gemmi Pass in Switzerland. You look down to the profound depths beneath you, or you turn and look up to the superb heights above you, but you are not going to stop there, nor to live there. It is not a place to remain, but a place from which to look off. You are either on your way down the pass to Leuker-Bad, or you are on your way up the pass to the Wild-strubel; it is merely a position of poise between two alternative destinations. Ye are partakers of the Divine nature. Our thought now is particularly up the pass, not down. There is more danger in a theology that differences man from God than in one which assimilates man to God. There is, as a rule, more quickening stimulus in the prospect of victory than there is in the danger of defeat. Few men ever become great through fear of remaining small. There is more incentive in trying to get to the top of the class than in trying to keep away from the bottom of it. If God can humanise the Divine to the point of its becoming man, as in the instance of Jesus, what is to hinder Him, in the exercise of the same omnipotence, from deifying man to the point of his becoming Divine? It is no farther from the bottom of the mountain to the top than it is from the top to the bottom. Now that, as we read the gospel, is exactly what the blessed Spirit is trying to do with us. God became like us that we might become like God. He is seeking to lead us back over the same road that tie came down. "Partakers of the Divine nature." "Now are we the sons of God." It is all in that word "sons." There is community through identity. You cannot get sonship in any other way. A loyal son is governed by his father; but it is the best element of that loyalty, not that the son does what the father bids him do, or makes him do, but that the son has his father's spirit so reproduced in himself, and so become a part of himself and he so a partaker in his father's nature, that his one act is at the same instant both his act and his father's act. And when we pray that God will control us by His Spirit, we certainly hardly expect that He is going to put His personality behind us, so as to push us onward; or put His personality in front of us, so as to hold us backward. We would rather mean, would we not, that as children of His, we are bound in the bundle of one life with Him, moving therefore at the impulse of energies that are ours without their ceasing to be His — somewhat, perhaps, as each separate storm-wave rolls in the expression of its own might, which is at the same time a part of the might of the sea; somewhat, perhaps, as each separate leaf or branch grows green in the expression of its own life, which is at the same time a part of the life of the vine. I in you, you in me. Frontier lines gone. One in each other, A single bundle of life, human or Divine, either or both; a shareholder in God; up the Gemmi Pass toward the indistinguishable summit.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

I. Look, first, at this LOFTY PURPOSE which is here presented as being the very aim and end of God's gift in the gospel. The human nature and the Divine are both kindred and contrary. There are no gods of the heathen so far away from their worshippers, and there are none so near them, as our God. The arched heaven, though high, is not inaccessible in its cloudless beauty, but it touches earth all round the horizon; and man is made in the image of God. True, that Divine nature of which the ideal man is the possessor has faded away from humanity. But still the human is kindred with the Divine. The tiniest spark of flame is of the same nature as those leaping, hydrogen spears of illuminated gas that spring hundreds of thousands of miles high in a second or two in the great central sun. But,that kindred, belonging to every soul of man, abject as well as loftiest, is not the "partaking" of which my text speaks, though it is the basis and possibility of it; for my text speaks of men as "becoming partakers." What, then, is it? No mere absorption, as extravagant mystics have dreamed, into that Divine nature, as a drop goes back into the ocean and is lost. There will always be "I" and "thou," or else there were no blessedness, nor worship, nor joy. We must so partake of the Divine nature as that the bounds between the bestowing God and the partaking man shall never be broken down. But that being presupposed, union as close as possible is the great hope that all Christian men and women ought consciously to cherish. Only mark, the beginning of the whole is the communication of a Divine life which is manifested mainly in what we call moral likeness. Partakers we shall be in the measure in which by our faith we have drawn from Him the pure and the hearty love of whatsoever things are fair and noble; the measure in which we love righteousness and hate iniquity. And then, remember also that this lofty purpose which is here set forth is a purpose growingly realised in man. The apostle puts great stress upon that. He is not talking about a being, but about a "becoming." That is to say, God must ever be passing, moment by moment, into our hearts if there is to be anything godly there. Cut off the sunbeam from the sun and it dies, and the house is dark; cut off the life from the root and it withers, and the creature shrivels. The Christian man lives only by continual derivation of life from God; and for ever and ever the secret of his being and of his blessedness is not that he has become a possessor, but that he has become a partaker, of the Divine nature. By daily increase we shall be made capable of daily increase.

II. Look, next, at THE COSTLY AND SUFFICIENT MEANS EMPLOYED FOR THE REALISATION OF THIS GREAT PURPOSE. "Promises" here must necessarily, I think, be employed in the sense of fulfilment of the promises. And so we might think of all the great and wondrous words which God has spoken in the past, promises of deliverance, of forgiveness, and the like; but I believe that by these "exceeding great and precious promises "is meant the unspeakable gift of God's own Son, and the gift therein and thereafter of God's life-giving Spirit. For is not this the meaning of the central fact of Christianity, the incarnation — that the Divine becomes partaker of the human in order that the human may partake of the Divine? Contrariety vanishes; the difference between the creature and the Creator disappears.

III. Let me say, lastly, that this great text adds A HUMAN ACCOMPANIMENT OF THAT DIVINE GIFT, "Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Corruption is initial destruction, though of course other forms of life may come from it; destruction is complete corruption. The word means both. A man either escapes from lust and evil, or he is destroyed by it. And the root of this rotting fungus "is in lust," which word, of course, is used in a much wider meaning than the fleshly sense in which we employ it in modern times. It means "desire" of all sorts. The root of the world's corruption is my own and my brothers' unbridled and godless desires. So there are two states — a life plunged in putridity, or a heart touched with the Divine nature. Which is it to be? It cannot be both. A man that has got the life of God, in however feeble measure, in him, will flee away from this corruption like Lot out of Sodom. And how will he flee out of it? By subduing his own desires; not by changing position, not by shirking duty, not by withdrawing himself into unwholesome isolation from men and men's ways.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Having
Homilist.
I. THE SOURCE OF A TREMENDOUS EVIL. Lust — of flesh, eye, and pride of life.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS EVIL.

1. Corruption of the physical nature — health damaged, disease engendered.

2. Corruption of the intellect judgment biased, mental powers enfeebled.

3. Corruption of the moral nature — heart polluted.

4. Corruption of the life — the corruption of the intellect and heart having its full development.

III. THE ESCAPE FROM THE EVIL.

1. From its tyrannical power and authority.

2. From its baneful effects, both in time and eternity.

(Homilist.)

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