1 Peter 1:10
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who foretold the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully,
Christ and His Cross the Centre of the UniverseAlexander Maclaren1 Peter 1:10
The Prophetic Theme. Rev. Gervase SmithKnowles King1 Peter 1:10
Salvation in its CompletionR. Finlayson 1 Peter 1:3-12
Soul-SalvationU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 1:9-12
Angels Studying RedemptionJ. Alexander.1 Peter 1:10-12
Angels, Students in the Mysteries of RedemptionT. Hannam.1 Peter 1:10-12
Living for Future GenerationsT. C. Finlayson.1 Peter 1:10-12
Redemption the Subject of Admiration to the AngelsJ. Witherspoon, D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
Redemption, a Study to the AngelsH. A. Boardman, D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
Salvation -- Mysterious and GloriousJames Floy, M. A.1 Peter 1:10-12
Salvation -- the Central Subject of SturdyJ. C. Jones, D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
Salvation a Matter of Universal InterestJ.R. Thomson 1 Peter 1:10-12
Salvation ExploredJohn Edwards.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Angelic Sturdy of RedemptionAlex. Nisbet.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Angels' Attitude Towards the Redemptive PlanA. Roberts, M. A.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Angels' Desire to Look into SalvationBishop Simpson.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Bible as a Grand Moral PaintingD. Thomas, D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Certainty and Greatness of Divine SalvationC. New 1 Peter 1:10-12
The Doctrine of Salvation, the Study of AngelsJ. C. Jones. D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Gospel MeridianJ. J. S. Bird.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Scriptures Sufficient for Salvation1 Peter 1:10-12
The Spirit of Christ and the ProphetsW. B. Haynes.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Study of SalvationN. Byfield.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Sufferings of ChristThe Congregational Pulpit1 Peter 1:10-12
The Value of the Old TestamentJ. Lillie, D. D.1 Peter 1:10-12
The Work of Christ the Central Fact of the UniverseA. Maclaren 1 Peter 1:10-12
Three Degrees of Christ's GloryJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:10-12
Through Afflictions Believers Come to GloryJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:10-12
Unselfish Ministries Self-RemunerativeT. Leighton.1 Peter 1:10-12
Unselfish MinistryBp. Westcott.1 Peter 1:10-12
The salvation which is secured by the work of Christ, and the work which secures it, are the center-point of the creation. "They that go before and they who follow after cry, Hosanna! blessed be he that cometh!" The calendar of civilized nations proclaims that he is the Lord of the ages - which are to be reckoned as "before Christ" or as "years of the Lord "-preparatory to or the development of his work. As for all time, so for all orders of being, the cradle and the cross are the center. There were angels in the heavens when there where shepherds in the fields, and not only Wise Men from the East but "bright, harnessed" seraphs came as pilgrims to Bethlehem. There were angels in the tomb while weeping women stood without. Prophets heralded his coming; evangelists told that he had come; and both were taught by the Spirit, whose chiefest office in the past and in the present is to take of the things of Christ, and to show them to us. Thus round him move all ages; to him turn all eyes; of him speaks all revelation; for man's salvation is the crowning work of God, and Christ effects man's salvation. Note, then, in this grand utterance four sets of persons, all concerned in that great work.

I. THE PROPHET-HERALDS. It has become fashionable now to speak doubtfully of Messianic prophecy. But any one who believes that Christ is what Peter knew him to be, the Son of God who died for all men, will feel it fitting that he should be heralded by the long series of predictions, and that before the King's chariot should be many outriders. The view of Old Testament prophecy given here is remarkable. Its main theme is declared to be the sufferings which were destined for the Messiah, and his subsequent glories. Precisely that suffering Messiah which had been such a difficulty to Peter himself and has ever been so to his nation, and which so many scholars now cannot see in the Old Testament, is here regarded as the center of prophecy; not that the whole body of Jewish prophecy is concerned with him, but that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The stratum crops out at many points, but is continuous, even where not exposed. The whole system has a forward look. Institutions and persons, ritual and kings, the very nation itself in its high vocation and its many sorrows, witnessed of One to come, whose personality should be all and more than all which these shadowed. And all this light of prophecy is gathered into certain bright points, such as Isaiah 53. and Psalm 22., in which that mystery finds speech, of the Messiah who suffers and then conquers and reigns. That thought is the center of the Old Testament, The criticism which does not group it all round the suffering Messiah has missed the shaping principle which moulds it all, and in its perplexity has turned order into chaos. Again, the relation of the prophets to their message is taught here in a remarkable fashion. It is an axiom with some critics that prophecy must be interpreted in the sense in which the speaker and his hearers understood it. But Peter thinks that the prophetic inspiration sometimes left the speaker ignorant of the full meaning of his own predictions, so distinctly was it the utterance of a higher power. The period of fulfillment, in its date ("what") and characteristics ("what manner of time"), were not necessarily known by the prophet. Another axiom of modern philosophizers upon prophecy is that predictions must have had a bearing, consolatory or menacing, upon their first hearers. But Peter thinks that a prophecy may have been spoken which was only to be fulfilled long centuries after, and could only have gladdened the hearers with a far-off hope. Yet the prophet was not a mere machine or pipe through which the breath of inspiration blew. His heart throbbed in sympathy with his message, and he pondered it with all his force of thought. Peter's theory of prophetic inspiration is equally far from the naturalistic and from the mechanical theories.

II. THE ANSWERING CHOIR OF EVANGELISTS. The same truths were the theme of prophet and of preacher. The word "reported" and that rendered "preached the gospel" are both compounds of one root. To tell that message which prophets foretold is to preach the glad tidings to the world; and the whole business of the Christian teacher is to proclaim the joyful facts. So we have here:

1. The full identity of the message of the prophet and the preacher. The main difference is in the tense of their verbs. The one speaks in the future; the other, in the present; but the verbs are the same and the nominative is the same. The bud and the flower are one. Prophecy is condensed, outlined gospel. Gospel is expanded, specialized prophecy. Rays which were parted in the prophet's utterance are united in the evangelist's message. Anticipations are ever less definite than realities. But the theme is one, though prophecy touched with but a light hand the mysterious nature of the Messiah whom it proclaimed.

2. The essential substance of the gospel is the proclamation of historical facts. It is not a philosophy, nor directly a theology, still less is it a system of morality. It is the record of what has happened on this solid earth. Philosophy and theology and morality will all be evolved from these facts, but the first form of the gospel is history. Only it is to be remembered that the fact that Jesus has lived and died is not the gospel; but the fact that Christ has died for our sins is. The more plainly Christian teachers deliver their message, not as the product of their own thoughts, but as the message given to them, and the more they center their energy on setting forth the fact of Christ's sufferings in the past and glories in the present, the better for their success and for the world.

III. THE LISTENING, GAZING ANGELS. "To look into" is literally" to bend the body so as to gaze upon an object," as the apostles did at the sepulcher. This graphic figure may, perhaps, be a reminiscence of the quiet forms which sat the one at the head and the other at the foot where the body of Jesus had lain, as gazing upon a mystery and guarding a holy place, or it may even recall the cherubim bending with outstretched and meeting wings above the mercy-seat. At all events, it speaks of the remoter and yet earnest interest which other orders of beings in other worlds take in the story of redemption. Men have the honor of proclaiming it, whether as prophets or evangelists. To them it belongs. He helped not angels, but he helped the "seed of Abraham? Therefore they do not speak of it, but stand around, like spectators in some great arena, all silent and all eyes. Three great truths concerning angelic natures are here. They are capable of learning. They too know God by his work which excites in them wonder and interest as it unfolds. The life and death of Christ, with the resulting salvation, are a revelation of God to angels no less than to men, and, though they have no share in the redemption, they have a share in the knowledge which the cross brings to them as to us. From it far-darting beams of light shoot earthwards and upwards. It is the crowning manifestation of the Divine nature for all worlds and orders of being, as for all ages.

IV. THE ONE SPIRIT DWELLING IN PROPHETS AND EVANGELISTS. Not only is the theme the same, but the animating impulse also. The power by which the prophet saw all the wonder that should be is the same as the power which sat in cloven tongues of fire on the heads of all the Church on Pentecost, and has ever since been the strength of every evangelist and of every Christian. Inspiration is not a past phenomenon, but the permanent possession of the Church. Nay, the Spirit which of old came for special purposes on selected men and. tarried not with them, is now, as it were, a denizen of earth, for it is "sent down from heaven" once for all, to abide among us, touching all lips which humbly and prayerfully speak Christ's Name among men. And it was the "Spirit of Christ" which dwelt in the prophets, and which they ever called "the Spirit of the Lord." From the beginning the Word was God; the manifested Jehovah of the old covenant is the Jesus Christ of the new. He is the Lord and Sender of that Spirit which spoke through all the prophets; he is the Medium of all revelation, the Self-manifestation of God from eternity. It is Christ who binds all the ages into one, filling the past, the present, and the future. It is Christ who binds all worlds and beings into one, revealing and ruling for angels and men. It is Christ who is the Theme and the Inspiration of all prophets and all teachers. To him cherubim and seraphim turn with eager gaze. The goodly fellowship of prophets speak of him; of him speak the great company who publish the Word. Let us, too, yield to the attraction of the cross, which binds all things in heaven and earth in golden unity. Let us gaze on those wonders of Divine pity and righteousness and love which have given to heaven a new conception of God. Let us open our spirits to that Spirit of Christ whose dwelling in our hearts shall set us free from sin and death. Let us cleave to that message which, in the history of his incarnation, death, and royal glories, brings to our hearts the good news that sheds light over all the darkest places of our human experience, and endows us with full salvation. - A.M.

Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently.
I. The prophets as examples to us in the STUDY of salvation.

1. The intensity of their study. The word here translated "searched" is used by classic authors to describe hounds scouring the country to discover their prey. We read the Bible more from idle frivolous curiosity than from a sincere deep-rooted wish to catch a view of the blessed Messiah moving in Divine stateliness through its histories and doctrines. Another striking similitude is suggested — that of anxious miners excavating for gold. Two young men catch the gold fever; despite the tearful entreaties of parents, they resolve to emigrate to Australia. The first morning after their arrival they rise earlier and with less difficulty than they ever did at home, shoulder their tools, and start eagerly for the much-coveted quarries. They dig, loosen a portion of the rock, pick up the stones. Observe how carefully they examine them to see if there be perceptible a slight golden tinge, just enough to feed hope; and if they discover a grain or two of gold, how the discovery cheers their hearts, nerves their arms, and transfigures their countenances! Similarly the holy men of the Jewish Church dug into the fields of Divine revelation, scanned verse after verse, dissected the sacrifices and analysed the prophecies, in order to possess a few grains of truth, a little refined gold.

2. The subject of their study — salvation. Not "after which salvation," but "of which, concerning which." This is one difference between heathen philosophers and Jewish prophets: the former inquired after salvation without finding it, whereas the latter possessed salvation to start with, and possessing it they had no need to search after it, but concerning it and into it. And our first concern should be to possess salvation, to be in a state of personal safety through faith in the Redeemer. Then we may at our leisure institute investigations concerning it and into it.

3. The noble spirit of resignation they evinced in presence of intellectual difficulties which they were not able to surmount. They inquired diligently; but they understood but little.

II. The apostles as examples to us in the PROCLAMATION of the gospel.

1. The subject matter of their ministry. "The things now reported unto you" — what things? "The sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow." These are the only things worthy of a Christian pulpit.

2. The manner of their preaching. "The things reported." The things invented, devised, imagined? Oh no; the apostles were not inventors, but reporters; not poets, but historians; not philosophers, but witnesses. They were simply reporters, narrating, each one in his own way, the memorable events of that wonderful biography. And do they not furnish us with a much needed example?

3. The power which accompanied their preaching — "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." Just as much electricity exists latent in the air on a serene, tranquil day as on a day of tempest when thunders roar and lightnings flash. What, then, is the difference? Not in the amount of electricity, but in the fact that in certain conditions of the atmosphere the electricity flashes into visibility, the latent fire bursts forth into flame. Similarly the Holy Spirit is as truly present in the Church today as in seasons of remarkable revivals, now as in the days of Whitfield, Wesley, and Rowlands. What is wanted is — for the Spirit to make His presence felt, for the Divine electricity to flash forth into lightnings. Pray for His manifestation; and then the weakest preacher among the tribes will be as the house of David, and the house of David as the angel of God.

III. The angels an example to us in the WONDER AND ADORATION that should fill our minds in the contemplation of this salvation.

1. What are the things here referred to? The answer is obvious — the same things which the prophets predicted and the apostles proclaimed. The burden of the study as of the song of these celestial beings is — "the Lamb that was slain." And if redemption in its various phases receives the attention and homage of angels, is it not deserving of our devout and worshipful meditation?

2. Into these things the angels desire to look. The word, it is said, might be rendered a little differently "into which things the angels desire to look," to look askance, to look one side as it were over the shoulder. What, then, is the idea? That salvation fronts not the angels, who consequently have to stretch the neck and look aside, as it were round the corners, to catch a glimpse of its glory. But so enraptured are they with the beauty they behold that they strive to see more and more, crowding into the churches to learn what they may of the "manifold" — many-coloured — "wisdom of God." No; salvation does not front the angels, but it fairly and fully fronts the children of men. Shall we front it? What is our attitude towards it today? Have we our backs or our faces towards this salvation? His face is towards us; are our faces towards Him?

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

St. Peter here exalts the nature of that glorious reward which is to be the end of tried and purified faith — the salvation of the soul.

I. UNFULFILLED DESIRES. This is a world of desire. We all crave for something we have not got. We crave for possessions and we crave for knowledge.

1. Noblest desires are often unattained. It is not every one who seeks for selfish pleasure. What could have been a more noble aspiration than that of the prophets of old to realise the salvation of which they prophesied? They proclaimed a blessedness which, after diligent search, they discovered was not for themselves to enjoy. How often does God put a limit even to our highest aspirations! One has sought to gain a high knowledge of gospel truth; but his health has broken down. A missionary, in the full possession of manhood and strength, is murdered, and his work apparently crushed. It is the Lord's doing, but it seems strange in our eyes.

2. Legitimate curiosity, when exerted, affords scant satisfaction. It might be in accordance with human nature to inquire particularly into the plans and purposes of God; but the prophets of old expended their curiosity in vain. There is little purpose in investigating too closely the hidden purposes of God. God expects us to do His work, and not to inquire very minutely into the motives or ends of that work.

II. UNENLIGHTENED INSTRUMENTALITIES. The prophets had to inquire respecting the salvation. We have here brought before us one of the mysteries connected with Divine work.

1. God's instrumentalities are not perfect, it is not necessary that they should be so. The world expects the ministers of the gospel to explain all God's purposes, all the Divine plans, and to lay bare the whole current of future events. But even the prophets of old were not altogether wise.

2. God's instrumentalities do not always possess that which they announce to others.

III. UNAPPRECIATED ATTAINMENT. It is evident that the apostle introduces the desire of the prophets and the desire of the angels to realise the mysteries of revelation, not out of mere aimless illustration, but to remind his people of the little interest they felt, and at the same time to arouse in them a spirit of emulation. But how do we act with regard to them? Do we sell all that we have in order to make them ours? Do we sacrifice every thing else to enjoy them? Alas! the characters, and energy, and desire, and love of those who only had a shadow of good things to come ought to cause us to lie low with shame, and to pray for the stirring influence of the Holy Spirit to prick our thankless and unappreciative souls.

(J. J. S. Bird.)

1. Let me caution you against the ignorant frivolity which, professing to reverence the Scriptures of the New Testament, speaks slightingly of those of the Old. As well may you sever the light of the meridian from its dawn; or, cutting a sunbeam in two, retain only the nearer portion.

2. Another popular conceit of our day is, that there is but little use in studying the prophetic Word of God, or, at least, beyond what lies on the surface. This, you perceive, was not the temper of the prophets: They "diligently inquired and searched." Into these things "angels long to gaze."

3. If such be the interest felt by all that is wisest and holiest in earth and heaven, in whatever concerns the redemption of man, alas for those to whom this great salvation itself is offered, and who yet choose to live and die in the neglect of it!

4. Let the afflicted children of God take comfort from the consideration of what was foretold, and has been fulfilled, in regard to God's own Well-Beloved, the Author and Finisher of their faith, to whose image it is God's purpose, and the dearest ambition of their hearts, that they shall be in all things conformed.

(J. Lillie, D. D.)

I. THE EXTRAORDINARY SUBJECT. What is the subject? "The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." Open this Book, spread out its pages, and what have you? A wide-spread canvas, on which is displayed this one great subject in every hue and form. This picture is divided into two parts. At one end you have "the sufferings of Christ"; at the other end "the glory arising out of these sufferings." The side on which the sufferings are depicted is full of incident, yet in dark shade. There you see the Babe. In one part, you see Him lying in a manger; in another, in the temple undergoing the painful rite of circumcision; and in another, in the arms of His affrighted mother fleeing into Egypt. But on the other end of the picture you have a striking contrast. Here is "the glory that follows." Here you see Him rising from the grave as the conqueror of death, the Prince of Life, and ascending to heaven amidst the rapturous shouts of an exulting creation. What glory will rise out of these sufferings! What new manifestations of God! What new motives to virtue! What new thrills of joy! Amongst the lessons which this extraordinary picture suggests we may mention three: —

1. The malignant animus of sin. What produced these sufferings of Christ that you see depicted here? Sin.

2. The benign tendency of the Divine government. Glory comes out of these sufferings; good is educed from evil. This is God's work. As out of sin comes suffering, out of suffering shall come glory.

3. The issue of suffering virtue. The sufferings of Christ were the sufferings of virtue; and they issued in glory. And so it will ever be. Goodness, however persecuted and afflicted, shall yet ascend the throne.

II. THE DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS. Who are the men that drew this wonderful picture? The text speaks of two classes; The prophets who prophesied of the "grace that should come unto you"; and the apostles who "reported." The prophets drew the dim and shadowy outline. The other class of artists are the apostles. "The things" concerning Christ which the prophets "did minister," the apostles "reported"; they "reported" them when they preached the gospel "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." The apostles, as artists, had an advantage over the prophets: they had those outlines of our Saviour's history which the old prophets had drawn. And they had in connection with this, the living subject, Christ. He had appeared amongst them, they had seen Him, and talked with Him. They therefore tilled up the outlines of the picture which the old prophets had drawn.

III. THE INSPIRING GENIUS. All real art implies genius. Genius to conceive the true and to embody it — creative and executive genius. Who was the inspiring genius of this painting? Peter tells us that in the prophets' case it was "the Spirit of Christ that was in them"; and in the apostles' case, "the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." This appears clear from the very nature of the work. Before a being can draw a correct picture of another he must have two things — a correct image of the subject in his own mind, and the proper skill correctly to transfer that image to the canvas.

1. The character of the subject. How did the prophets and apostles get a conception of Him whom they here depict? — a character so thoroughly unique, so entirely adverse to a priori impression and observation too! The highest virtue associated with the greatest suffering; the most despised man in personal connection with God. Things so contrary meeting in the same one life, render the idea of man creating such a history out of his own imagination all but absurd. The "Spirit of Christ," within them, gave them an image of some strange personage, but they knew not of whom.

2. The method of execution. A man may form a correct image of a person, and yet lack the artistic skill to transfer it to the canvas. The execution of the subject is, indeed, as unique as the conception. All mere human art is labour; effort is seen in every touch. But these men, in a few simple words about what they saw and heard, present the hero life-like in every point. The "Spirit of Christ" that was in them, not only drew to their imagination the manifold aspect of His own being, but guided their pencil in every line, to portray the same. In human productions, both in literature and art, the author generally appears, and some times is offensively prominent. But not so here.

IV. THE ILLUSTRIOUS SPECTATORS. "Into which things the angels desire to look." But why should they be so interested in it?

1. Because it is suited to excite their intellectual natures. Anything extraordinary has a power to rouse the inquiring faculty.

2. Because it is suited to excite their religious natures. To a devout spirit nothing is more interesting or attractive than a manifestation of God.

3. Because it is suited to excite their benevolent natures.


1. Look at the universality of the purpose. "Not for themselves," but "unto us they did minister these things."

2. Look at the blessedness of the purpose. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. First, THAT THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE IS A SUBJECT ABLE TO FILL THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE DIVINEST AND WISEST MEN. The prophets have a subject able to fill them; yea, more than they are able to conceive of to the full, which may serve for two uses. First, for humiliation, that we should be so barren-hearted and able to conceive so little of so Divine a subject. Secondly, for singular consolation to the godly. For by this it appeareth that they have an admirable portion in that such worthy men so much admire it.

II. Secondly, THAT AS ANY HAVE MORE GRACE, SO THEY ARE MORE HEARTILY AFFECTED WITH THE ESTIMATION AND DESIRE AFTER THE SALVATION OF GOD'S ELECT. Certainly, so long as we can admire anything more than the grace of God to His people, our hearts are void of grace.


1. The first are they that will take no pains at all, nor trouble themselves to study about their religion and what belongs to their souls.

2. The second are they that, though they will study diligently, yet it is in by-studies, as matters of controversy, or the general knowledge of religion, or matter that may fit them for discourse, or the like.

3. Now a third sort there are that will not be drawn aside from the needfulest studies, as repentance, assurance, order of life, etc., but their fault is that they study not these diligently. For they soon give over and finish not their works either of mortification, or sanctification, or illumination, or preparation for salvation.

(N. Byfield.)


1. Who they were — "the prophets."

2. Divinely commissioned. "The Lord of Hosts hath spoken it."

3. Divinely guided. "What manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify."


1. The limits of the field. "So great salvation." "Eternal salvation."

2. The nature and object of their labours. "Who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you."


1. A longing to discover salvation.

2. Mental activity. "Searched," etc.

3. The work was continuous. "Diligently."

4. Scrutiny. "Searching what, and what manner of time," etc.


1. It centres itself in a person.

2. In a Divine person.

3. In a suffering person.


(John Edwards.)

A worthy sufferer of the name of Hawkes was under examination before one of Bonner's chaplains, of whom he ventured to inquire, "Is not the Scripture sufficient for my salvation?" "Yes," replied the chaplain; "it is sufficient for our salvation, but not for our instruction." "Well, then," rejoined the honest but quaint martyr, "God send me salvation, and take you the instruction."

Searching what...the Spirit of Christ...did signify
The testimony of the Spirit in the prophets was —

I. TO CHRIST JESUS. While the world sinned and slept, Infinite Love prepared its Saviour.

II. TO THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. The theme of all Spirit-taught ministers.

III. TO THE GLORY THAT SHOULD FOLLOW (R.V., glories). Christ's glories are —

1. The well-earned reward of His griefs.

2. The majestic and fitting con summation of His mediatorial course; incomparable in its humiliation; peerless in its purity; and merging into the splendour of the final glory.

3. They mark the full approbation and delight in Him of the Eternal Father, sealing redemption with sublime approval.

4. They are the consolation of God, angels, and men. We never could have forgiven the Cross if the crown had not followed.

5. The Illuminated Gateway of the saints' eternity. "With Me where I am, that they may behold My glory."

6. A blessed counterpart to His sorrows. Sufferings balanced with glories. For "sin" and "curse," mediatorial holiness upon essential holiness.

7. They "followed" and forever follow. When Calvary shall be seen far back like a distant ruddy star, the glory shall still spread around and onward, a measure less sea of brightness.

(W. B. Haynes.)

Testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ
The Congregational Pulpit.

1. The person that suffered was God, and also man.

2. The nature and extent of His sufferings. Corporeal and mental.

3. The persons for whom the sufferings of Christ were endured.

4. The design for which Christ suffered. That He might finish transgression, and make an end of sin.


(The Congregational Pulpit.)

The glory that should follow
1. His resurrection.

2. His ascension.

3. He shall one day come unto judgment, and bring all His servants to His glory.

(John Rogers.)

But how shall we come to glory? Even by the same way that our Head hath gone before us, by sufferings. It follows —

1. That afflictions or persecutions are no ill sign, but rather of the way to heaven and glory; it should encourage us to suffer, seeing glory follows; and a great reward ensues thereupon.

2. That those who will suffer no affliction nor persecution for Christ and the gospel, but shifting themselves therefrom, aim at the glory of the world, are not in the way to glory, but shame hereafter will be their portion.

(John Rogers.)

Not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister
Such is the Divine interpretation of the prophet's work. Their ministry was not for themselves, but for a later age. They must bear the burden of perplexity and disappointment, of hope deferred and doubts unresolved, in the sure confidence that others would enter into their labours. And, indeed, such confidence brings all the light which we need for courageous endurance. The crown of service is to know that the service, barren, perhaps, for the moment, will bear fruit in after time. Thus the words of the apostle are a voice of encouragement to all who catch a distant and interrupted vision of the later fulfilment of God's will. "Not unto themselves, but unto you" this is the judgment which history addresses to us in recording the toils and aims of those to whom we owe our splendid inheritance in our national Church. They gave their best in thought and deed to the cause of God, and left the using to His wisdom. Now I wish to speak of our debt to the future. For, as we contemplate our gathered treasures, we cannot but ask to what use we shall put them, and so we pass on to the wider question of the office which we are called to fulfil for our children. The progress of human life imposes the duty of large forethought on each such succeeding generation with ever-increasing force. Thought advances with accelerated motion. We may check or we may further the expression of the vital energy. We may, by wilful and impatient self-assertion, delay the end which even in our ignorance we desire; or we may by wise humility become in perfect devotion fellow workers with God. Under this aspect the work of the Church is prophetic. Its ministers are set to provide that under every change of circumstances the Divine idea of life shall be presented in confortuity with the circumstances under which it must be realised; to watch with dispassionate regard the currents of popular thought that they may prepare a natural welcome for fresh voices of the spirit; to guard, to develop that which in the Divine order will be the ruling idea of the next generation.

1. There is, I say, already among us a final perception of the unity of creation which it will be the health of our children to realise — a unity in Christ. Many of us have watched from the beginning the progress of the physical conceptions of the conservation and transformation of energy. We have apprehended with increasing clearness that nothing in the universe is isolated, and that we ourselves enter into all of which we are conscious.

2. There is again among us a growing acknowledgment of the unity of society which it will be the strength of our children to realise — a unity in Christ. Every one speaks of the present tendency towards democracy. The idea of democracy is not, if we look below the surface, so much a form of government as a confession of human brotherhood. It is the confession of common duties, common aims, common responsibilities.

3. There is yet more among us a feeling after a unity of humanity, a vaster, fuller, enduring human life, which it will be the joy of our children to realise — a unity in Christ. Such thoughts as these of an unrealised unity felt to be attainable, felt to correspond with the idea of creation given back to us in redemption, answer to the spirit of the age. They are in the air. They foreshow, that is, the truths which in the fulfilment of the Divine order are offered to us by the Holy Spirit. It is for the Church in the fulfilment of its prophetic office, even with imperfect and troubled knowledge, to welcome them, to give them shape, and to transmit them to the next age for the guidance and inspiration of its work. The truths lie, as I have said, in the gospel of the Incarnation. The urgent problems, the very dangers which rise before us, disclose in the central fact of all life — the Word became flesh — new depths of wisdom and consolation. We do not yet know the end — we have no power to know it — but we know the way — even Christ, who is able to subdue all things unto Himself. In that Presence we confess that the world is not a factory, or a warehouse, or a paradise of delights, but a sanctuary in which God's glory can be recognised and His voice still heard. But in spite of every burden of toil, of ignorance, of weariness, of suffering laid on sinful man, it is a sanctuary, full of the glory of God, in which each believer offers the worship of life and the sacrifice of his whole being. This light, this larger significance of things, this heavenly splendour of earth, this sense of opportunity, is even now borne in upon us on many sides, and it is the prophetic office of the Church to discern the signs of the fresh dayspring from on high, and prepare her sons to use the lessons of the new order.

(Bp. Westcott.)

Sometimes in worldly things this thought of living for a future generation comes with startling effect upon a worldly man. "What am I toiling and moiling for? I shall soon be dead and gone, and these houses, lands, estates, debentures, shares, what not, will be for others!" Even in this there may be some far off touch of the Divine; for such men sometimes live in this respect unselfish lives — not for them the enjoyment of those soft luxuries they are gathering about them, but for their children and children's children. Not to themselves they minister — and so far we say there may be some soul of good even in this; only let us all remember that the best heritage we can ever leave to our children is that of a wise, pious, charitable example.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

The true preachers of the gospel, though their ministerial gifts are for the use of others, yet that salvation they preach they lay hold on and partake of themselves, as your boxes wherein perfumes are kept for garments and other uses, are themselves perfumed by keeping them!

(T. Leighton.)

Which things the angels desire to look into

1. The object of inquiry is — salvation and its concomitants: a salvation which consists in deliverance from condemnation, from the love and power of sin, and in restoration to peace and happiness; a salvation revealed in the Scriptures; a salvation the subject of prophecy; a salvation which, both in respect to its nature and the time of its accomplishment, engaged the most serious attention of the prophets; a salvation which rests, not on the merit or power of many, but on the grace of God; a salvation effected by the sufferings, death, and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The persons engaged in this inquiry. The angels do not partake of body, nor organic eye, nor ear, nor other sense, yet they have powers equivalent to these faculties, even increased and extended; for they are represented as knowing the interior as well as the surface of things. They are as powerful as they are wise. They have been corrupted by no apostasy from God. They are true, just, benevolent, devout, they glorify God, and thereby completely answer the ends of their creation. They are, at the same time, as happy as they are good; they feel no pain, know no want; their perceptions are all pleasant, thoughts all elevated, employments all dignified.

3. The manner in which they conduct this inquiry. They "desire to look into" them. Looking is a species or modification of seeing. It implies seeing, but it includes more. In seeing, the mind is often in a considerable degree passive; an object is brought before the eye, and it must be seen, although it may not be considered or attended to. In looking, the mind is not only active, but it puts forth all its powers with energy. The object is not brought to it, but it is sought for; and when it is found the eye is directed towards it, and kept fixed upon it, to the exclusion of other objects. When we speak of seeing, as applied to the mind, it means apprehension or discovery. Nothing is so laborious and fatiguing to the mind as fixed, intense thought; and very great must be the importance or charms of an object which can engage it. But such is the importance and such are the charms of the things of salvation to angels, that they not only bend their capacious minds to this subject, and prosecute it with fixed, intense, and eager thought, but they consider it as an object of pleasure; for they not only look, but they desire to look into the things which pertain to salvation.

II. THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS TRUTH. It naturally excites surprise when we are told that angels, who have no immediate connection with salvation, should leave their native employments to investigate it with so much earnestness and solicitude. This, however, upon reflection, will be found to be a fact as reasonable as it is true.

1. The things which pertain to salvation form an object the contemplation of which is peculiarly adapted to the capacities of angels. In the salvation of Christ there is a new revelation of God; a new display of Divine character and attributes; not to be discovered in any other thing or in any other way within the whole compass of the universe of God. An object so completely adapted to the talents and to the duties of angels imposes obligations upon them to inquire into its nature and properties, which without blame, they could not neglect.

2. The things which pertain to salvation form an object which is peculiarly calculated to attract the notice of angels. They, in visiting, age after age, the utmost bounds of the creation of God, must have seen mighty wonders unknown to man; yet, after all, there is something, if I may so express myself, in the nature and texture, in the magnitude and utility of salvation, which has not its equal in the whole universe of God. It is this, therefore, that justly attracts their notice, and leads them to bend their mighty minds to the investigation of a subject so singularly astonishing.

3. The things which pertain to salvation form an object the knowledge of which will be highly beneficial to angels. It reveals to them new attributes, and discovers new glories in the Divine character; it increases their piety and devotion; it will afford them new employments, and add to their usefulness; it will enable them to discharge better the duties of their high office of ministering to the heirs of salvation; and it will give them a sweeter voice and a loftier tone in performing the heavenly song, which ascribes blessing and power and dominion to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.

4. The things which pertain unto salvation form an object in attending to which angels serve God. When angels trace in salvation evidences of wisdom, power, and glory, far superior to those which appear in the other works of God; when they admire the wonderful events of the incarnation, atonement, and redemption, these new things which have happened in the earth, their reverence and love towards the Divine Being are thereby increased; they render homage to the Son of God; and, in so doing, they obey the commandment which God hath given; for when He brought His First Begotten into the world, He said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him"; and thus they serve Him with increasing diligence and zeal.


1. It is calculated to rescue the doctrine of salvation from unworthy treatment, Yes! angels are captivated by the doctrines of salvation which men presume to neglect.

2. It should give the doctrine of salvation dignity in the eyes of men.

3. It indicates the manner in which the doctrine of salvation should be studied.

4. It should encourage perseverance in endeavouring to attain the knowledge of the doctrine of salvation.

5. The greatness of the privileges of those to whom the knowledge of salvation is offered. Jesus Christ is emphatically styled in the Scriptures the unspeakable gift of God; and surely to attain the knowledge of salvation through Him, must be the most important privilege that possibly can be enjoyed.

(J. C. Jones. D. D.)

It cannot but be deemed remarkable that we should be so isolated from the rest of the universe. Here are millions of orbs brought within the range of our vision by the telescope. We cannot doubt that they are the abodes of rational creatures. Yet of the races that tenant these countless worlds we know absolutely nothing. One race only besides our own is introduced to us: and of that, the notices are quite too meagre to satisfy us. We see just enough of the angels to wish to see a great deal more. We "desire to look" into their affairs, as they into ours. We are on safe ground in ascribing to them superior intelligence and ample knowledge. But the knowledge of a creature, whatever his rank, must necessarily be progressive. The angels, like ourselves, must learn things by the event — excepting when God may have been pleased to reveal His purposes to them. But, except through some special revelation, of which we have no hint, it was impossible they should foresee the extraordinary transactions which were to distinguish this orb from all the others scattered through the wide fields of space. From the very first, however, the Divine procedure on this planet would arrest their attention. How would it astonish them to witness the temptation. They had seen Satan and his fellow apostates cast down to hell: and yet he is now permitted to come to this newborn world, and to appropriate one of the lower animals to the atrocious purpose of seducing the happy pair from their allegiance. Is it fanciful to imagine that this event would fill the angels with amazement? that they would say one to another, "How can these things be?" But something no less inexplicable would now inflame their curiosity. They had heard the threatening, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." It came from lips which could not lie. And yet Adam and Eve do not "die," — i.e., they do not, on their transgression, "return to the dust," nor are they banished into outer darkness. Whether this was intelligible to them we do not know. The fall occurred before the birth of Cain. We are not certain that the angels had ever seen an infant. Among their own race we may with confidence affirm they had not. The difference between our race and their own, in this particular, could not fail to interest them. They were all created in the full maturity of their powers. In some way the seed of this woman is to bruise the serpent's head. Obscure as this intimation must have been, as well to the angels as to the guilty pair, it would unveil to them a new attribute of the Godhead. Up to this period, it would seem, they had known nothing of the Divine mercy. Its absence could be no defect in their eyes, for the idea of mercy was not yet born into the universe of creatures. What a discovery was this which now broke upon them! Truth, justice, goodness, holiness — with these attributes they were familiar. But of mercy they had never heard. Enfolded in the depths of His own infinitude, she had been from eternity awaiting the appointed day of her epiphany, her glorious manifestation to heaven and earth get even now that the period has come, she does not rise full-orbed upon the world, but mild and gentle, like the dawn, as befits the quality of mercy. But this shall suffice for angelic eyes. Though mercy never spake before, she needs no interpreter. These occurrences could not fail to stimulate the curiosity of the angels. They would watch with deep solicitude the course of the Divine administration towards our world. They would treasure every fresh intimation of the future deliverance to be effected by the seed of the woman. The presumption is, that during those forty centuries it was a perpetual study to them; and that as the beneficent scheme was gradually developed, it only increased their desire to look into its unfathomable mysteries.

1. The first and chief of these is, to quote St. Pear's own words, "the sufferings of Christ": by which we may understand His entire work of humiliation from Bethlehem to Calvary. We must believe that the angels knew, long before the advent, that the Second Person of the Trinity was to be the Redeemer of the world. But it is not certain that they had any distinct conception of the Incarnation. "Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh." How could they have penetrated this mystery beforehand? There was neither precedent nor analogy to aid them in resolving it. Accustomed as they were to render co-equal honours to the Trinity, and especially to adore the Son in "the possession of the glory which He had with the Father before the world was," how could they think of Him as stooping to be "born of a woman," as coming into this revolted world as an infant, blending His Divinity and our humanity in an indissoluble unity? Imagine what a season of suspense those thirty years must have been to them which Jesus passed at Nazareth. How often would they visit the favoured village. In what vast encampments would they spread around it. As He emerged from His seclusion to enter upon His public ministry, their interest would become deeper and deeper still, until it found its culmination in the Cross.

2. Not only would the angels desire to look into the "sufferings of Christ," but into the application of redemption also. They were familiar with two types of character, perfect holiness and unmitigated depravity; and with two conditions of being, unalloyed happiness and absolute misery. Neither their own history nor, so far as we are informed, the annals of any other sphere supplied them with any example of a character in which these elements were commingled, or afforded any hint of a possible transition from one state to the other. They knew nothing of forgiveness, nothing of renewal. The sacrifice on Calvary now opens to them a new world, on earth as well as in heaven. They had, indeed, seen something of this before, for the efficacy of the great expiation reached backward to the fall. But its triumph was reserved for the new dispensation. And here they see His miracles of mercy — not less marvellous in their effects upon the souls of men than had been those of the Messiah upon their bodies. There must be much in the history of individual believers to awaken their sympathies, but still more in the general welfare of the Church. We may be sure that things have not always gone as they expected: that events have constantly occurred which were well nigh as inexplicable to them as to us. Must it not be a marvel to them that the Church, the purchase of Christ's blood, should have made its way so slowly and so painfully in the world? that at one time it should be poisoned With error; at another, frozen with formalism; at a third, debauched with secularity; at a fourth, fissured and rent with internal strife?

3. Here, in fact, is another of the themes which stimulate the curiosity of the angels, "the glories which should follow." They have seen the "sufferings of Christ": they would fain see His glory. They have seen — they see now — the sufferings of His Church: they would see its glory. They can, no doubt, frame a better conception of them than we can. And this very circumstance must increase their solicitude to witness the final result. They saw the first faint lineament of the august plan in Eden. They see also the preparation for it which is going on in heaven. No wonder that they long for its sublime consummation. If we inquire whence this curiosity on their part, we may easily conjecture some of the motives which prompt it.(1) Without dwelling upon that simple craving after knowledge which pertains to every created intelligence, we may refer to the aid which the angels derive from redemption in their study of the character and government of God. To any creature the knowledge of the Creator is the most important of all knowledge. To holy beings, no study can be so attractive. The angels, as already observed, have signal advantages for this study. But there is no volume open to them which yields so much information concerning God as redemption. Heaven cannot lack for evidences of the Divine wisdom; but if it would see this attribute in its glory, it must come down to earth. Its grand achievement is redemption. And what we affirm of His wisdom we claim also for His other moral attributes. Here "mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other." Nowhere else has the Deity made so full, so august, so grateful, a revelation of Himself.(2) A second reason is to be found in their personal concern in the results of redemption. It is an opinion sanctioned by many eminent names in theology, that the good angels owe their confirmation in holiness in some way to the mediation of Christ. We read, e.g., of "the elect angels." We are told that God "gathers together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him." And that "all power is given Him in heaven and in earth." There is another respect in which they are interested in this work. In the revolt of their associates, they become no less their enemies than the enemies of God. In all the plots and counterplots, the assaults and repulses, the victories and defeats, of this war of centuries, they have taken a conspicuous part. Their immediate personal concern in it, then, is a cogent reason why they should desire to look into the mystery which infolds it.(3) And this imports that their own happiness is involved in the issue. Merely to glance at this point, the benevolence of the angels must attract them to the study of redemption. They know what the happiness of heaven is. Here is a race whose destiny is undecided, the only race which is in this anomalous condition. Whatever the issue, it must be irreversible. The fate of millions of souls hangs upon the trembling balance. Is it for an angel to look upon such a scene with indifference?Reflections —

1. Let us borrow from this scripture a single ray of light to set forth the quality of that scepticism which men of cultivated minds sometimes cherish respecting Christianity. Now, as of old, the gospel is "to the Jew a stumbling block and to the Greek foolishness." You stigmatise it as not only oppressive in its demands, but even irrational in its principles. Go to the angels for a lesson of humility.

2. There is a keen rebuke in this scripture for those who are living in the neglect of the gospel.

(H. A. Boardman, D. D.)

I. MYSTERIOUS, and therefore a subject of angelic study.

1. From its novelty.

2. From the moral character of the race to be redeemed.

3. From the manner of its accomplishment.

4. From the mode of its promulgation.

5. From the manner in which the tidings of this salvation, even when preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, are received by the children of men.


1. In its exhibition of the Divine character.

2. In its transforming efficacy.

3. In its diffusive nature.

4. In the freeness with which its blessings are offered.

(1)To all indiscriminately.

(2)In perfect sincerity.

(3)On terms easy, and within the reach of every individual.

5. In the perpetuity and fulness of its blessings.

(James Floy, M. A.)





(A. Roberts, M. A.)


1. The first thing I shall mention is the Incarnation of the Son of God; the union of the Divine and human nature, by the Word's being made flesh. It is probable that this discovery was made to the angels gradually, as it was to men. There is one circumstance in the Incarnation itself, which is certainly as astonishing as any, That He was not only made flesh, but sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh." What so opposite to the nature of God as sin? And what so surprising, as that the Son of God, though without sin, yet should in all respects outwardly be like to sinners? that He should be taken for a sinner, treated as a sinner, and at last crucified as more than ordinary sinner?

2. Another circumstance which must afford matter for adoring inquiry to the celestial spirits, is the substitution of an innocent person in the room of the guilty, and His suffering from the hand of God. The angels had always hitherto seen innocence and holiness attended with peace and felicity, and they had seen the apostate spirits laid under an irreversible sentence of condemnation. What astonishment, then, must it have given them, what new views of the boundless sovereignty and unsearchable wisdom of the Most High must it have opened to them, when they heard Him saying, "Deliver him from going down into the pit, I have found a ransom!" How often must they have been put to a stand, what to think of the severity and persecution, the contempt and opposition which Christ met with from those very sinners whom He came to save! But above all, how must they have been at a loss to comprehend His being exposed, not only to the contempt of man, but to the wrath of God! For "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He hath put Him to grief."

3. Another circumstance in the plan of redemption through Christ, which will afford matter of wonder to the celestial spirits, is the free justification of sinners, and their acceptance with God, through the imputed righteousness of Christ. Must not this appear a new and extraordinary plan to the angels, who, by personal and perfect obedience, retain the favour of their Creator, and who had been hitherto strangers to the influence and intercession of a mediator? who had seen no such thing take place when their brethren sinned (Hebrews 2:16). The holy angels will rather say, "Let us step aside and see this great sight." They will then see that there is no way more proper for maintaining the dignity of the Divine Government; nay, that it is the only way by which those who have been sinners can be received into favour. They will see and confess that there is no circumstance whatever that tends more to level the pride of the sinner's heart, and bring him to universal submission, and absolute subjection to the sovereignty of God.

4. Another circumstance in the mystery of the gospel which will be matter of wonder to the angels, is the application of redemption, or the manner and means of translating sinners "from darkness to light," and "from the power of Satan unto God."


1. What you have heard will contribute, I hope, to show the guilt of those who despise the gospel, and serve to remove the offence of the Cross.

2. You may learn from what has been said the encouragement that is given to sinners to return to God through Christ.

3. From what hath been said upon this subject, you may examine your title to partake of the holy ordinance of the Lord's Supper; or, in other words, your right to the favour of God and to eternal life. No disposition more suitable, none more necessary at a communion table than a grateful and admiring sense of redeeming love;

4. From what has been said, learn what is your most proper employment at the Lord's table. Adore and contemplate the riches of redeeming grace, that great theme which "the angels desire to look into."

(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)

I. WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE WHICH THE ANGELS LOOK INTO. They must of necessity be the things which the apostle had been speaking of, especially in the three preceding verses: the things of Christ.

1. The Incarnation of Christ, or His coming into this world (1 Timothy 3:16)

2. The life of Christ. That perfect pattern of all that was excellent is often before their eyes.

3. The death of Christ. The love of it, in His dying for sinful man, must be to them subject of perpetual wonder and praise.

4. The doctrines of Christ. His admirable lessons of piety and virtue; His wise precepts and instructions; His wonderful revelations of the Divine will must be highly entertaining to them (Revelation 14:6).

5. The promises of Christ.


1. With wonder.

2. With the closest attention.

3. With reverence.

4. With delight.

5. With praise.


1. The angels being employed so much about these things, seems to show that they desire to look into them.

2. These things concern angels as well as men. God is their Father as well as ours, and the portion of both.

3. God is glorified in and by these things. Their work is to glorify Him (Revelation 7:11; Psalm 148:2).

4. They are for the highest good of man, and therefore the angels desire to look into them. They have a generous concern for our welfare.

5. The subject matter of these things is such, as that the angels must needs desire to look into them. Never were greater things than those which Christ has revealed to us.Application:

1. Since the angels look into these things, do you look more into them?

2. Since the angels look into these things, do you put a higher value upon them?

3. Since the angels look into these things, see that you have a saving interest in them, otherwise the angels that look into them will witness against you.

(T. Hannam.)

In order to ascertain what Peter means by the phrase "which things," we must look back to the antecedent context. It is plain, therefore, that the matters of angelic solicitude here referred to, are just the same as those of prophetic study; that is to say, the salvation of the gospel; or, as it is more minutely described in the eleventh verse, "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." The text farther declares in what manner the angels study these subjects. In the holy of holies, the most secret shrine of the Jewish temple, stood the ark of the covenant, an apparatus in whose interior was deposited the canon of the Mosaic law, the blessings and the curses, the promises and the threatenings, of God's most holy word. Over the top of this ark was laid a covering or lid of massive gold, which was denominated the Mercy seat. It was a symbol of our Saviour's propitiation. Now, above the mercy seat were figures of cherubim, whose expanded wings overshadowed its circumferences, and whose many faces were all bent down in silent gaze upon the emblems underneath. They looked down, in the attitude of eager gladness and adoring wonder, upon the interposing medium which annihilated the presence and the power of the law. These cherubim, as the prophecies clearly show, represent the heavenly angels; and therefore we have here found, in the typical emblems of the Jewish economy, a literal picture of the doctrine of the apostle, that the pure spirits of the upper world bend down, in the attitude of learners, to explore "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." But once more our text indicates not merely the posture but the spirit with which the angels engage in this contemplation. They desire to look into it. They are anxious, warm, eager, ardent in the matter. Their hearts, as well as their eyes, are bent on it; and, with intent, assiduous, and persevering zeal, they devote themselves to scrutinise it in all its depth, though it is unfathomable, and in all its extent, though it is limitless.

I. We remark that the angels desire to look into "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that shall follow," NOT BY ANY MEANS IN CONSEQUENCE OF IGNORANCE IN REFERENCE TO THE GRAND FACTS OF THE SCHEME OF REDEMPTION. When Adam was expelled from Paradise, and an angel stationed at its gate to deter the guilty rebel from ever approaching the place whose sanctity he had profaned, we may imagine that that angel was aware of the hopes and consolations sealed up in the great promise, and knew man was not accursed forever. Angels visited in his tent the Father of the faithful, and knew that unto his off spring God had promised eternal blessings. Choirs of angels welcomed the incarnation of the Lord with strains of heavenly music. Doubtless, these blessed spirits knew the subject of which they sang so sweetly. Heaven's heralds knew they were greeting the human nature of Heaven's eternal King. However, it is proper to take notice of a text, which, at first sight, will rather appear to demonstrate that the angels are not deeply versed in the matters of fact connected with the redemption of Christ (Ephesians 3:9-10). But this passage by no means implies that it is the Church alone which enlightens the heavenly host in the glorious dispensation of the Gospel of Christ. The assertion of the passage is not that the heavenly host were in ignorance of that subject till the Church instructed them, but that they never learned the subject through the Church till the Church received, and professed, and obeyed the truth. The angels knew the mystery of redemption before the apostles went forth on the theatre of the world to preach salvation to every creature. But it was not till, from their lofty dwelling place in heaven, they saw the Gentile and the Jew alike being gathered into one fold of the one great Shepherd, that they knew, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God.

II. We remark that the angels desire to look into the sufferings and glory of Christ, BECAUSE THERE THEY OBTAIN THE BRIGHTEST DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS.

III. The angels desire to look into "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," BECAUSE THE ETERNAL INTERESTS OF MANKIND DEPEND ON THESE THINGS, AND BECAUSE THESE ETERNAL INTERESTS ARE AT STAKE. When we analyse the motive which impels the angels to look into the mystery of redemption, it resolves itself not only into a reverential desire of studying the Divine perfections, but also into an anxious concern for the salvation of sinners. This concern is itself twofold, depending partly on the desire of the angels to see Christ glorified in the salvation of sinners, and partly on the benevolent affection of the angels to these sinners, whom they see in such imminent danger of everlasting destruction.

IV. The angels desire to look into "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow," in other words, INTO THE PROGRESS OF THE WORK OF REDEMPTION, BECAUSE THE ISSUE OF THAT WORK WILL BE THE ELEVATION OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT OVER THE ANGELIC RACE, IN DIGNITY, GLORY, AND POWER. What strange and striking thoughts it must suggest to an angelic being to look upon a human creature, depraved, condemned, absorbed in the pleasures of sin, and at last falling a prey to death, who yet, in virtue of a previous union to Christ by faith, shall rise above the fetters of mortality, shall be elevated to the holiness and happiness of heaven.

(Alex. Nisbet.)

It is thought to be a sign of weakness to bow down before the Cross. The context teaches a different lesson. The prophets, who were men of great mental gifts, were deeply interested in this "salvation." The apostle goes a step beyond. He declares that the angels desired to look into these sublime truths.

I. THE NATURE OF THESE ANGELS. The Scriptures have revealed but little about them. The Bible was not given us to reveal their nature, but to make known to us the plan of salvation. Yet there is something about the nature of angels which we may know by the study of ourselves.

1. We have memory. History has a meaning to us. Our memories, at best, are very imperfect, but there are some things we never forget. Now, the memory of any one thing implies the possibility of a memory that will never forget. Now, angels, no doubt, have memories far more tenacious than ours. How this will add to their knowledge.

2. Then we have the power of connecting cause and effect, and the power of pure reason; and we have that still more marvellous power, imagination. Whither cannot imagination go? How much better are angels fitted by powers far more perfect than these to gather knowledge.

3. Then, again, we are hindered by our bodies — one-third of our time is taken up in eating and sleeping. Angels are free from all this.

4. Then consider how much more we know than we did fifty years ago. Yet the angels witnessed the birth of the worlds and systems of worlds. All history lays open before them. They know of God's providence. How much then these angels must know of God; I had almost said what do they not know of Him?

II. Consider, that notwithstanding all this knowledge THE ANGELS WERE NOT SATISFIED BECAUSE THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE PLAN OF SALVATION. They heard of this plan and were deeply interested. They "desire to look into it." With all their powers of investigation, with all their vast knowledge, here was a matter that they had not fathomed, and that they greatly desired to know. Yet scientists sometimes feel that they are so busy as to have no time to study this salvation. They are busy at studying the structures of crystals. Why angels know all about them. They saw the particles taking their positions. These men are busy in investigating the strata of the rocks. Why, the angels saw the upheaval of the rooks which so diversified and distorted the strata. They were there at the formation of the earth and have witnessed all the changes. All these things, which so deeply concern these scientists, are plain as A B C to these angels, who. nevertheless, so desire to see into the plan of salvation, that subject which the scientists deem of so little importance.

III. IT IS NOT REVEALED TO US HOW ANGELS SOUGHT TO UNDERSTAND THIS MATTER. The visions concerning it came to the prophets, doubtless, as pictures. They did not fully understand all they saw. Moses, when he desired to see God, was told that no one could see the face of God and live. Another prophet saw a different picture, he saw Christ as a lamb led to the slaughter. Others saw still different pictures. Now I imagine that the angels, as the prophets traced the pictures they saw, would look over their shoulders to study this marvellous salvation. That word which is translated in the text, "look into," is a wonderful word. It means to look down into. It implies eagerness to see the bottom.

(Bishop Simpson.)


1. Salvation.

2. The grace of the gospel.

3. The sufferings of Christ.

4. The glory that should follow.


1. Attentively.

2. Humbly and reverentially.

3. With eager and prevailing desire.

III. THE INSTRUCTIONS AND ADMONITIONS WHICH THEIR CONTEMPLATION OF THESE THINGS AFFORDS TO US. The desire which angels manifest to look into these things, teaches —

1. The dignity and the glory of the Son of God, who has furnished them with such subjects of contemplation,

2. The magnitude and importance of the work of redemption.

3. The means which we must use, in order to be influenced by them ourselves. We must "look" into them — we must make them the subject of devout and studious contemplation.

4. The propriety and the duty of making them known to all mankind.

5. The criminality of those persons who treat the same things with indifference and neglect.

(J. Alexander.)

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