2 Peter 1:1-2
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…
I. AS TO ITS NATURE. It doth involve knowledge, knowledge of most worthy and important truths, knowledge peculiar and not otherwise attainable, knowledge in way of great evidence and assurance.
1. Truth is the natural food of our soul. What light is without, that is truth within, shining on our inward world, illustrating, quickening, and comforting, exciting all our faculties to action, and guiding them in it. Faith, therefore, as implying knowledge is valuable.
2. But it is much more so in regard to the quality of its objects, which are the most worthy that can be, and most useful for us to know, the knowledge whereof doth indeed advance ore" soul into a better state, doth raise us to a nearer resemblance with God. Thereby we understand the nature or the principal attributes of God. By it we are fully acquainted with the will and intentions of God, relating both to our duty and our recompense. By it we are informed concerning ourselves. It enableth us rightly to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong. It prescribeth us an exact rule of life. It proposeth the most valid inducements to virtue. It discovereth the special aids dispensed to us for the support of our weakness against all temptations. The knowledge of these things is plainly the top of all knowledge whereof we are capable; not consisting in barren notion, not gratifying idle curiosity, not serving trivial purposes, but really bettering our souls.
3. Faith also hath this excellent advantage that it endueth us with such knowledge in a very clear and sure way, it not being grounded on any slippery deduction of reason, nor on slender conjectures of fancy, nor on musty traditions or popular rumours; but on the infallible testimony of God conveyed unto us by powerful evidence.
II. IT HATH ALSO DIVERS INGREDIENTS, OR INSEPARABLE ADJUNCTS, WHICH IT DOTH IMPLY, RENDERING IT COMMENDABLE AND ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. As —
1. Faith implieth a good use of reason. This is that which commendeth any virtue, that a man acting after it doth act wisely, in conformity to the frame and design of his nature.
2. Faith implieth a compliance with the providence and grace of God.
3. Faith doth imply good opinion of God and good actions toward Him.
III. THUS IS FAITH PRECIOUS, CONSIDERING ITS NATURE, AND THOSE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OR INSEPARABLE ADJUNCTS WHICH IT DOTH INCLUDE OR IMPLY. It will also appear to be so if we consider its rise and those good dispositions which concur in its production.
1. To the engendering of faith there is required a mind sober, composed, and wakeful; ready to observe what befalleth, apt to embrace what is offered, conducible to our good; a mind not so drowned in worldly care, sensual enjoyment, or impertinent sport as to neglect the concerns of our eternal state.
2. Faith doth require much diligence and industry.
3. Faith must needs proceed from sincerity and soundness of judgment.
4. To the begetting faith there must concur humility, or a readiness to entertain sober and moderate opinions of ourselves, together with suitable affections and desires.
5. To faith much fortitude, much resolution must conspire, for he that firmly persuadeth himself to be a Christian doth embark in most difficult warfare.
6. The noble virtue of patience is likewise accessory to faith.
7. With faith also must concur the virtue of prudence in all its parts and instances; therein is exerted a sagacity, discerning things as they really are in themselves, not as they appear through the masks and disguises of fallacious semblance.
8. In fine, the embracing Christian doctrine doth suppose a mind imbued with all kinds of virtuous disposition in some good degree.
IV. ITS EFFECTS are of two sorts: one springing naturally from it, the other following it in way of recompense from Divine bounty. I shall only touch the first sort, because in this its virtue is most seen, as in the other its felicity. Faith is naturally efficacious in producing many rare fruits. Even in common life faith is the compass by which men steer practice, and the mainspring of action, setting all the wheels of our activity on going; every man acteth with serious intention, and with vigour answerable to his persuasion of things, that they are worthy his pains, and attainable by his endeavours. In like manner is faith the square and the source of our spiritual activity, brooking pains and hardships. What but faith, eyeing the prize, will quicken us "to run patiently the race that is set before us"? We are told that faith doth "purify our souls and cleanse our hearts"; that is, our whole interior man, all the faculties of our soul; disposing them to an universal obedience and conformity to God's holy will; and so it is, for faith not only doth clear our understanding from its defects, but it cleanseth our will from its vicious inclinations, it freeth our affections from disorder and distemper, in tendency toward bad objects, and in pursuit of indifferent things with immoderate violence; it purgeth our conscience or reflexive powers from anxious fear, suspicion, anguish, dejection, despair, and all such passions which corrode and fret the soul; how it effecteth this we might declare; but we cannot better set forth its efficacy than by considering the special influence it plainly hath in the production of each virtue, or on the performance of every duty. "Add to your faith virtue," saith Peter, implying the natural order of things, and that if true faith precede virtue will easily follow. In fine, it is faith alone which can plant in us that which is the root of all contentedness and all patience; a just indifference and unconcernedness about all things here; it alone can untack our minds and affections from this world, rearing our souls from earth and fixing them in heaven.
(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: