Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
I. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY REQUIRED: "Follow peace." The word "follow" is full of meaning. It implies strong desire, and vigorous endeavour; both the inward and outward man are to be engaged in this necessary and delightful service. It is also implied that we shall meet with many obstacles and difficulties in the way, both from the corruptions of our own hearts, and the perverse disposition of others: so that we shall need invincible perseverance.
1. In following after peace, we must pray that our own hearts and the hearts of others may be inclined to peace; we to propose, and they to accept it, and both to maintain it when once it has been established.
2. It becomes us to avoid whatever might become an obstacle to peace. Pride must be mortified; the pride of riches, of talents, and of reputation. Let us also beware of covetousness; for the love of money has separated those who would otherwise have been happily united. In order to preserve peace it is necessary also to discountenance slander and reproach, and to guard against ill-grounded jealousies and evil surmisings. Nothing can prosper where these propensities are indulged; they are the bane of confidence, and the rottenness of friendship.
3. We must endeavour to exercise those graces which have a pacific and uniting tendency. Of this description are humility, meekness, and love. Of the exercise of such virtues it may be said, as Tertullus did of the actions of Felix, by them we enjoy much quietness.
4. As the desire of peace should excite to the exercise of grace, so also to the faithful discharge of duty. We should do unto others, as we would have others in like circumstances do unto us. It becomes us to be courteous in our deportment, neither envious of those in superior circumstances, nor haughty towards others whom providence has placed beneath us. Let us also forget ill services, and requite good ones. Above all, let us mark those who would sow the seeds of strife, and avoid them, as we would a rock or quicksand, or a house infected with the plague.
5. Let us remember that a mild and peaceable disposition is one of the greatest ornaments to the Christian character. In this we shall resemble the ever blessed God, who is emphatically styled the God of peace. Jesus is also called the Prince of Peace, and His gospel is the gospel of peace; His followers therefore ought to be men of peace.
II. THE EXTENT OF THE DUTY: "FOLLOW peace with all men."
1. We must follow after peace with men of all ranks and conditions in life. We should behave with reverence towards those above us, and with courtesy towards those below us; avoiding on the one hand a proud spirit, and on the other, whatever is mean and grovelling.
2. With men of various tempers and dispositions. If masters are froward, servants should he submissive. If neighbours are unkind, ye must be patient towards them, and towards all men. Virtue of every kind shines the brighter, when contrasted with its opposite, and gains a victory over it.
3. We must follow peace with men of every character and description, let their principles be what they may; with the righteous and the unrighteous, with both saints and sinners, in (he Church and in the world.
4. Christians of other denominations, and of different religious sentiments, are entitled to our attention and benevolent regard.
5. We must follow peace, even with our enemies. We must do good, where nothing but evil is to be expected in return.
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: