False Teachers as Merchantmen
2 Peter 2:8
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing…

The apostle here makes a continuation of their sins and a declaration of their plagues. They extend the thread of their mischief very long, till hell fire burn it off. They broach heresies, corrupt multitudes, sell souls, as merchants do their wares; cozen men's consciences, colour foul natures with fair words, blaspheme the gospel, deny Jesus Christ. Oh, how constant and long-winded are they in their wickedness! But there is a judgment that wakes while they slumber.

I. THE GENERAL SIMILITUDE (MERCHANDISING) HERE USED. The calling of a merchant is of great antiquity and necessary use. Merchants are the feet of the world, whereby distant countries meet together. Yet it is a dangerous profession, not only for wreck of life and goods, but also of conscience; which is not always made in their ships abroad, but too commonly in their shops at home.

1. The merchants are false teachers. As Judas sold Christ for thirty pieces, so they sell men to sin, little esteeming the price that a soul cost.

2. The wares — "you"; your estates, liberties, lives, and souls. They set up a mart of holy things, and with their impostures fill their purses. An evil pastor may sell his flock three ways —

(1) By flattery. He that encourages a man in his errors sells him for his own gain.

(2) By heresy. Broaching schisms and factions and erroneous opinions, as it were feeding the people with bones, or rather poisons, instead of wholesome meat.

(3) By silence. The watchman who does not ring the alarm bell at the approach of danger betrays the city to the enemy.

3. "Through covetousness." This is the ground or motive of their traffic. It is true of every schism, what was said of Lucilla's faction, with a little inversion: anger bred it, pride fostered it, and covetousness confirmed it.

(1) This sin of covetousness is iniquity in all men, blasphemy in a clergyman. The titles we bear, the office we sustain, the Person we represent, the nearness of our calling to that absolute integrity, are remembrances unto us that we be not covetous.

(2) There is no fault in a minister like covetousness, because there is no sin reigning in the world like worldliness. We may preach our hearts out to dissuade men's affections from this world; if we embrace it ourselves, they will never believe us.

(3) The vice of covetousness is an epidemical disease, the grand Cairo of mischief, the metropolis of wickedness, a universal plague that has infected all conditions of people.

4. The means of their utterance, "feigned words"! Heresy was never found disjoined from hypocrisy. Their speeches are so ambiguous and equivocal, that they seem to hold both ours and our adversaries' tenets. What they cannot perform by the evidence of truth, they seek to attain by the eloquence of art. As rebels Drake their proclamations in the name of the king, and pirates intending to rob merchants hang out the flags of other nations, both to scandal them and to conceal themselves; so do hypocrites wear Christian colours that they may be the devil's cozeners.


1. The severity of it.

(1) Their "judgment." The menaces of God are not always followed with an infallible event, being sometimes on purpose signified, that they may be by penitence prevented.

(2) For whose sake doth God execute judgment upon these false teachers? For His own glory and the Church's good, that they may no longer cozen men's souls with their impostures.

(3) Though the Lord will judge these wicked persons, yet this forbids not magistrates to execute justice upon them.

(4) Their "judgment" — their own; as proper to them as the inheritance they bought with their money. Sin doth naturally draw a punishment.

(5) Their "judgment." But is it so certainly theirs, that no repentance can prevent it? Yes, serious repentance may avert the vengeance, if their gracious God gives the repentance.

(6) Their "judgment and their damnation." Observe the proportion and adaptation of their punishment to their sin. It holds in divers analogies.

(a) They denied the Lord that bought them, therefore the same Lord shall judge them.

(b) They acted all their villainy in secret, therefore now it shall be laid open.

(c) The way of truth hath been blasphemed by them, therefore now it is fit that it be glorified on them.

(d) Before they sold men in covetousness, therefore now they shall be sold themselves in justice.

(e) Before they brought in the heresy of damnation, therefore now they shall sustain the penalty of damnation.

(f) Before they did pull on themselves destruction voluntarily, therefore now must father the child of their own begetting, and suffer destruction nesessarily.

(g) Their sin did hasten punishment and make it swift, therefore fit it should no longer tarry; it "lingereth not."(7) "Damnation" is principally taken for the censure or sentence condemning; as the sentence follows the trial, and the execution the sentence; here it intends the execution of the judgment.

2. Sleepeth not, lingereth not, slumbereth not. Though it be not yet present, it is propinquant; if not extant, yet instant.

(1) This wakeful vengeance is threatened against the ungodly very fitly; for nothing is more proper to the nature of sin than to sleep in security.

(2) Sin will not let justice sleep, bug sends it up continual challenges, provoking Him to draw that sword, which He had rather should rest in the scabbard, than be sheathed in His own creatures.

3. "Long ago." There is a preordination of plagues for reprobates, and the very moment of the execution appointed (Jude 1:4).Lessons:

1. Seeing God doth not sleep in His justice, let not us sleep in our injustice.

2. As this is terror to the ungodly, so comfort to the righteous. As justice is ever waking, so mercy is never asleep.

(Thos. Adams.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

WEB: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, was tormented in his righteous soul from day to day with seeing and hearing lawless deeds):

A Preacher of Righteousness
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