1 Peter 3:14-17
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;…
I. CHRISTIAN COURAGE in not being sinfully afraid of those evils which men may threaten us with, for righteousness sake, is A DUTY FREQUENTLY RECOMMENDED TO US IN SCRIPTURE, and timidity or irregular fear forbidden (Isaiah 8:11, 12; Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5; Philippians 1:27, 28; Jeremiah 1:5-7; Ezekiel 2:6; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 21:7, 8).
II. THE BEING SINFULLY AFRAID OF PERSECUTION, OR THE WRATH OF MAN, IS EXTREMELY UNWORTHY OF A CHRISTIAN.
1. A Christian is the sworn soldier of Jesus, and Jesus has expressly obliged him by an unalterable statute to take up his Cross and follow Him through the most terrible dangers and inconveniences.
2. The Christian professes to believe in an Almighty God, the best friend and sorest enemy; and in Jesus Christ who cheerfully suffered the greatest evils for his sake; and that there is an everlasting life both of happiness and misery, to be bestowed upon men, according to their final constancy or apostasy.
3. The Christian may continually look upon the glorious example of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; and upon the great cloud of witnesses or martyrs, who feared not the wrath of man, nor loved their lives unto the death.
III. HOLY FEARLESSNESS AND MAGNANIMITY IS, UNDER GOD, A STRONG GUARD TO THE CHRISTIAN'S UPRIGHTNESS AND PIETY; whereas fearfulness and pusillanimity do woefully endanger and betray them (Daniel 3:16-18; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13; Proverbs 29:25; John 12:42).
IV. The enemies of the Church of God are so entirely subjected to His providence, and the Church, upon the other hand, is so watchfully regarded by the same providence, THAT THE CHURCH'S ENEMIES CANNOT INJURE IT WITHOUT THE DIVINE PERMISSION, or extend their persecutions against the righteous beyond the limits which God has fixed (Psalm 37:32, 33; John 19:10, 11; John 7:30; Luke 22:52, 53).
V. The highest pitch to which the malice of the most implacable and powerful adversaries of truth and piety can arrive is, to molest and ruin the faithful professors and friends of the same, IN THEIR OUTWARD, BODILY AND TRANSITORY STATE (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4). Conclusion:
1. That we may attain to Christian fortitude and intrepidity in the time of persecution, it will be necessary for us with a humble importunity to make our addresses to God, that He would be graciously pleased to endue us therewith (Colossians 1:11).
2. If we would not be afraid of men, let us use our utmost endeavours to get our hearts possessed with the awful and holy fear of God; and then we will find by happy experience that the latter fear drives away the former.
3. They whose hearts are inflamed with the love of God, are strongly fortified against the impressions of sinful fear and cowardice, when wrathful persecutors either threaten or attack them (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7).
4. The exercising a lively faith about the glory and happiness which is provided in the world to come for those righteous persons, who valiantly endure all these persecutions, would inspire the Christian with invincible fortitude, fill his soul with a noble contempt of men's terror, and carry him forward triumphantly in the way of his duty, notwithstanding the fiercest opposition of enraged and powerful men (Hebrews 11).
5. They who would not be sinfully afraid of human terror, who would not for the fear of it deny any known truth, or neglect any known duty: let them entertain just sentiments concerning the good and evil things of this present world, the advantages and disadvantages, the honour and dishonour, the pleasures and pains thereof; taking care that they do not overrate them, and that they do not place their happiness in the enjoyment of the former, nor their misery in suffering the latter.
6. It would be very useful to the Christian, for preserving him from cowardice, that he had continually before his eyes the most glorious example of Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation, and the heroic bravery and patience of the saints. For then he would be ashamed basely and sinfully to turn his back upon these dangers, which not only his Lord and General, but also his fellow soldiers did boldly encounter and overcome.
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;