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. THE PATIENT SUFFERING for righteousness' sake is the giving obedience to one of the commandments of Jesus Christ, and that upon the doing thereof depends the truth of their Christianity in this life, and their salvation in the next (Matthew 10:37, 38; Matthew 16:21-25; Mark 8:31-38).
II. THE CHEERFUL ENDURANCE of those evils which befall the Christian in professing the truths of God and obeying His commandments, is an instance of the most heroic virtue, and a happy proof of the sincerity of his piety and faith. It is the most glorious victory over ourselves, our own passions and fears, and that natural inclination which prompts us to secure our life and the conveniences thereof.
III. The Christian's being engaged in the state of persecution, and his valiant endurance of the same, is A HAPPY INDICATION OF GOD'S SPECIAL FAVOUR TO HIM, AND ESTEEM OF HIS FORTITUDE AND UPRIGHTNESS (Acts 9:15, 16; 1 Peter 4:16; Philippians 1:28, 29; Acts 5:40, 41).
IV. As God lovingly calls true Christians to the honour of suffering for His name, so HE GRACIOUSLY RECKONS HIMSELF TO BE HONOURED BY THEIR RELIGIOUS COURAGE AND FIDELITY in the doing thereof (John 21:18, 19; 1 Peter 4:14).
V. The constant integrity of the good man, under all his sufferings for righteousness, CREATES IN HIM THAT INWARD PLEASURE AND PEACE OF MIND WHICH IS THE CONSTANT AND GENUINE EFFECT OF HOLINESS and virtue, and of the soul's being conscious to itself of its own innocence. And it likewise obtains for him these supernatural joys and assistances, which in the hour of temptation flow in from the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; 1 Peter 4:14).
VI. That which is a very considerable proof of the blessedness of those who endure in the spirit of patience and penitence, those sufferings which meet them in the way of their duty; THEY POWERFULLY CONTRIBUTE TO PURIFY THEIR SOULS FROM REMAINING CORRUPTION, and to perfect them into the highest degrees of holiness (Isaiah 27:9; Hebrews 12:10, 11; 2 Corinthians 4:16).
VII. That which, without the possibility of a reasonable contradiction, clears and completes the evidence for the truth of the happiness of these pious ones, who suffer for righteousness' sake, is: THAT THEY ARE SECURED OF THE BLESSEDNESS OF HEAVEN, that though it be future, yet with respect to it St. Peter might very well say in the present tense, "Ye are happy" (Matthew 5:10; Matthew 19:29; James 1:12). Conclusion:
1. From the truth of the fore-said doctrine, viz., the happiness of those who suffer for righteousness' sake, we see the lamentable ignorance and error of carnal and worldly minded men.
2. We learn from the evidence of this great truth, that it is our wisdom, as well as duty, to adhere unto righteousness and truth, even in the time of the most terrible threatenings and persecution.
3. The suffering Christian is taught hereby, that instead of repining against the Divine Providence on account of his sufferings, he ought rather to magnify God, that He graciously affords him the blessed opportunity and means of knowing his own sincerity, of promoting the Divine glory, of partaking of unspeakable spiritual joys, and of being advanced to the most eminent holiness in this life, and happiness in the next.
4. Serious reflection on the felicity of those who suffer for righteousness' sake would be very useful to mitigate the sorrow of those whose dearest friends may at any time be involved in persecution for their keeping the faith and a good conscience.
5. The belief of this truth should stifle our revenge against our most malicious persecutors; seeing we know that, however evil their intention may be, yet the persecution itself through God's grace, turns about in the end to our inexpressible advantage.
6. It is comfortable to observe that the happiness asserted of the sufferers for righteousness is not restricted to any particular instance either of righteousness or suffering.
7. The happiness of those who suffer for righteousness' sake affords a very powerful motive and encouragement to patience and constancy, in the time of the hottest persecution.
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;