The Christian Estate
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…

I. THE STATE OF CHRISTIANS, "a chosen generation;" so in Psalm 24. The psalmist there speaks first of God's universal sovereignty, then of His peculiar choice. As men who have great variety of possessions have yet usually their special delight in some one beyond all the rest, and choose to reside most in it, and bestow most expense on it to make it pleasant; so doth the Lord of the whole earth choose out to Himself from the rest of the world a number that are a chosen generation. "Generation." This imports them to be of one race or stock. They are of one nation, belonging to the same blessed land of promise, all citizens of the New Jerusalem, yea, all children of the same family, whereof Jesus Christ, the root of Jesse, is the stock, who is the great King and the great High Priest. And thus they are a "royal priesthood." They are of the seed royal, and of the holy seed of the priesthood, inasmuch as they partake of a new life from Christ. Thus, in Revelation 1:5, 6, there is first His own dignity expressed, then His dignifying us. There is no doubt that this kingly priesthood is the common dignity of all believers; this honour have all the saints. They are kings, have victory and dominion given them over the powers of darkness and the lusts of their own hearts, that held them captive and domineered over them before. This royalty takes away all attainders, and leaves nothing of all that is past to be laid to our charge, or to dishonour us. Believers are not shut out from God as they were before, but, being in Christ, ale brought near unto Him, and have free access to the throne of His grace. They resemble, in their spiritual state, the legal priesthood very clearly.

1. In their consecration. The levitical priests were washed; therefore this is expressed (Revelation 1:5), "He hath washed us in His own blood," and then follows, "and hath made us kings and priests."

2. Let us consider their services, which were diverse. They had charge of the sanctuary, vessels, lights, and were to keep the lamps burning. Thus the heart of every Christian is made a temple to the Holy Ghost, and he himself, as a priest consecrated unto God, is to keep it diligently, and the furniture of Divine grace in it; to have the light of spiritual knowledge within him, and to nourish it by drawing continually new supplies from Jesus Christ. The priests were to bless the people. And truly it is this spiritual priesthood, the elect, that procure blessings upon the rest of the world, and particularly on the places where they live.

3. Let us consider their course of life. We shall find rules given to the legal priests, stricter than to others, of avoiding legal pollutions, etc. And from these, this spiritual priesthood must learn an exact holy conversation, keeping themselves from the pollutions of the world: as here it follows: "A holy nation," and that of necessity; if a priesthood, then holy.

II. THE OPPOSITION OF THE ESTATE OF CHRISTIANS TO THAT OF UNBELIEVERS; we are most sensible of the evil or good of things by comparison. Though the estate of a Christian is very excellent and, when rightly valued, hath enough in itself to commend it, yet it doth and ought to raise our esteem of it the higher, when we compare it both with the misery of our former condition, and with the continuing misery of those that abide still and are left to perish in that woeful estate. We have here both these parallels. The happiness and dignity to which they are chosen and called, is opposed to the rejection and misery of them that continue unbelievers and rejectors of Christ.

III. THE END OF THEIR CALLING. That ye should show forth the praises, etc. To magnify the grace of God the more, we have here:

1. Both the terms of this motion or change, from whence and to what it is.

2. The principle of it, the calling of God.

(1) From darkness. The estate of lost mankind is indeed nothing but darkness, being destitute of all spiritual truth and comfort, and tending to utter and everlasting darkness. And it is so, because by sin, the soul is separate from God, who is the first and highest light, the primitive truth. And the soul being made capable of Divine light, cannot be happy without it. And as the estate from whence we are called by grace is worthily called darkness, so that to which it calls us deserves as well the name of light. Christ likewise, who came to work our deliverance, is frequently so called in Scripture, not only in regard of His own nature, being God equal with the Father and therefore light, but relatively to men: "The life was the light of men." There is a spirit of light and knowledge flowing from Jesus Christ into the souls of believers, that acquaints them with the mysteries of the kingdom of God, which cannot otherwise be known. And this spirit of knowledge is withal a spirit of holiness; for purity and holiness are likewise signified by this light. Then from this light arise spiritual joy and comfort, which are frequently signified by this expression. There are two things spoken of this light, to commend it, "His marvellous light;" that is — it is after a peculiar manner God's — and it is marvellous. All light is from God, the light of sense, and that of reason; therefore He is called the Father of lights. But this light of grace is after a peculiar manner His, being a light above the reach of nature, infused into the soul in a supernatural way, the light of the elect world, where God specially and graciously resides. Now this light being so peculiarly God's, no wonder if it be marvellous. And if this light of grace be so marvellous, how much more marvellous shall the light of glory be, in which it ends! Hence learn to esteem highly of the gospel, in which this light shines unto us; the apostle calls it therefore the glorious gospel. Surely we have no cause to be ashamed of it, but of ourselves that we are so unlike it.

(2) The principle of this change, the calling of God. "He hath called you." Those who live in the society and profess the faith of Christians, are called unto light, the light of the gospel that shines in the Church of God. Now this is no small favour, while many people are left in darkness and in the shadow of death, to have this light arise upon us and to be in the region of it, the Church, the Goshen of the world; for by this outward light we are invited to the happy state of saving inward light, and the former is here to be understood as the means of the latter. This is God's end in calling us, to communicate His goodness to us, that so the glory of it may return to Himself. As this is God's end, it ought to be ours, and therefore ours because it is His. And for this very purpose, both here and elsewhere are we put in mind of it, that we may be true to His end and intend it with Him. This is His purpose in calling us, and therefore it is our great duty, being so called, to declare His praises. All things and persons shall pay this tribute, even those who are most unwilling; but the happiness of His chosen is, that they are active in it, others are passive only.

(Abp. Leighton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

WEB: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Spiritual Darkness and Light
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