2 Peter 3:3-4
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,…
I. TO CONSIDER THE NATURE, FOLLY, AND DANGER OF SCOFFING AT RELIGION, than which nothing can be more offensive to a considerate mind.
1. Is there anything ridiculous in the belief of a Deity, a supreme, infinite, and intelligent mind, the creator and governor of the universe? Is it absurd to assert that He who made the world exercises an universal providence and directs all the affairs of it? What is there ludicrous in any of the duties of piety, in a supreme reverence and love of God? What is there that has a ridiculous aspect, or can excite any but the laughter of fools, in justice, temperance, etc.? Again, is it at all unsuitable to our most worthy notions of God to believe, that when the world was universally corrupted, He would graciously interpose for the good of His creatures, and teach them their duty by an extraordinary revelation? Is it in the least irrational to suppose that this revelation has fixed, with the utmost distinctness, the terms of our acceptance with God, and thereby removed distracting suspicions and superstitious terrors?
2. Further, the grand principles and duties of religion are so far from having anything ridiculous in them, that they are some of the plainest and most obvious dictates of reason, which renders the guilt of the scoffer much more aggravated and his impertinence and folly more insupportable.
3. Let me only add that religion is of the utmost consequence to the comfort of men's minds, the peace of society, and the general good of the world. So that whoever sets himself to vilify these important truths not only fixes certain reproach upon himself by misplacing his ridicule on what has really nothing absurd in it, but is, in fact, whatever his intention may be, whether to gratify a trifling humour, display the forwardness of his genius, or corrupt the morals of the age, an enemy to society and the general happiness of mankind.
4. And as the guilt of these scoffers is very great, their danger is in proportion. For if the principles of religion should happen to be true, he that has so abused his reason, that noblest gift of God, as to employ it against his Maker, and all that is amiable and useful in human life, must expect to be treated with the utmost rigour and severity.
II. TO INQUIRE INTO THE CAUSES OF IT.
1. It sometimes springs from a levity of mind which disposes men to treat all subjects ludicrously.
2. Again, bantering religion frequently proceeds from ignorance and superficial inquiry.
3. Sometimes again it happens that the fashion of the age they live in, or the general humour of the company they frequent, makes persons set up for scoffers.
4. Scoffing at religion may, in some persons, proceed from a direct hatred of it, occasioned by a prejudice in favour of their vices. This was the case of the scoffers mentioned in the text, who are expressly described as walking after their own lusts. I may safely assert that immorality in the practice is the source of the most invincible prejudices against religion. How natural is it for those, who live as without God in the world, to wish that there was no such Being, that by destroying the first principle of all religion they may justify the want of it in their practice. I shall only add, that when men are averse to the principles of religion, they will naturally decline all further inquiries into the reasonableness of them, and be fond of everything that looks plausible on the side of infidelity.Learn:
1. Into what extreme corruption the mind of man, which is indued with such noble faculties and formed for Godlike perfection, is capable of being sunk, even to mistake confusion for order and deformity for beauty?
2. Again, that we may not be imposed on by the scoffers of our own times, let us always take care to distinguish between reasoning and ridicule. We should examine what it is that is really ridiculous: whether it be religion itself, or something of a different nature substituted in the place of it.
3. Finally, that we may keep at the utmost distance from this crime, let us employ our reason in defending religion and representing it in a just and amiable light. Let our natural abilities be devoted to this service, and all our studies and improvements made subservient to it.
Parallel VersesKJV: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,