The Church's Visitation
1 Peter 4:17-19
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us…


1. God hath two houses, the heavens, which are called His house, because He manifests His glory there, and the Church here below, wherein He manifests His grace. Yea, the whole world, in a sort, is His house, because He manifests His power and wisdom in it; but heaven and His Church, in a more peculiar manner; and that in these respects —

1. Because God by His graze hath residence in His Church.

(2) Because by the means of salvation — the Word and sacraments there administered — He doth feed His Church, as in a house.

(3) A man rests and takes contentment in His house; so God takes His best contentment in His Church and people; they are the most beloved of all mankind.

(4) As in a house we use to lay up our jewels and precious things; so God lays up in His Church whatsoever is precious — His praises, His graces, yea, whatsoever is good and of high esteem, that He bestows upon His Church and people.

2. God provides for His Church as His own house. First, a man provides for his family; so doth God provide for His Church. And as a man protects his house from all enemies, so will God protect His Church and people, and be a wall of fire, and a defence round about them.

3. The heart of true Christians is God's private closet. And as in every house or building, there are some open places, and some private closets, etc., so is it here. God hath His private chamber, and His retiring place, which is the heart of every true Christian.


1. Such is the weakness of man's nature, that evil things soon discourage us; and good things, except we wrestle with our spirits, prove a snare to the best. Even the Church of God, after a long time of peace, is apt to gather corruption, as water doth by standing, and as the air itself will do if it have not the wind to purge it.

2. Most certain it is that the Church of God cannot be long without some affliction, considering that it is now in a state of pilgrimage, absent from God, in another world as it were.

III. GOD WILL COME TO VISIT AND PURGE HIS HOUSE WHEN NEED IS. He afflicts His own people before others, because —

1. They are of His own family, and are called by His name (Numbers 6:27). Now the disorders of the family tend to the disgrace of the governor of it.

2. The gospel suffers much through the sins of professors.

3. The sins of the godly are more heinous than others.

(1)  Committed against more light.

(2)  More benefits and favours.

(3)  Sacrilege.

(4)  Idolatry.


1. The time of visiting the Church of God is from Abel to the last man that shall be in the earth. The whole days of the Church are a time of persecution.

2. The Church is afflicted when the light of the gospel hath most clearly shined.

3. Now is the time of the Church's affliction.

V. JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD. God begins with His own Church and people —

1. Usually because He uses wicked men and the enemies of His Church for that base service, to correct and punish them.

2. To take away all excuse from wicked men.

3. That His children might be best at last.

4. That when He sends them good days afterwards, they might have the more taste and relish of His goodness.

(R. Sibbes.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

WEB: For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God. If it begins first with us, what will happen to those who don't obey the Good News of God?

The Church's Visitation
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