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. IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY CHRISTIAN TO USE HIS MOST SERIOUS ENDEAVOURS THAT HE MAY UNDERSTAND THE REASONS AND GROUNDS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
1. Scripture enjoins the exercise of our reason and judgment about religion (1 Corinthians 14:20; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 6:11, 12; John 5:31-40; 1 Corinthians 10:15; Acts 17:11).
2. The sincere and humble performing of this duty would contribute very much to render our religion and the acts thereof acceptable to God; as being thereby more suitable both to His nature and ours, more fit for us to offer, and for Hint to receive (Mark 12:33; Deuteronomy 15:21; John 4:22-24).
3. That which should very much excite the Christian's endeavours, to understand the principles and reasons of his holy religion is that his being ignorant of them would be a most shameful and ignominious thing. How extremely reproachful is it that men whom God hath adorned with judgment for the direction of their actions should be stupid children, or very brutes in their religion!
4. This ignorance is also extremely dangerous to the Christian, because it exposes him to all the attempts of the enemies of the truth, and makes him a cheap and easy conquest to persecutors and impostors.
5. The duty of inquiring into the reason of religion is particularly incumbent upon those who disclaim an infallible judge of controversies upon earth, and reckon it to be a Christian privilege and right to receive no articles of faith upon the sole credit of human authority.
6. The woeful divisions of Christendom in matters of religion, the high pretensions of each party to the truth, and our being surrounded not only with heresy and schism, but also with downright infidelity, do loudly call us to a most impartial inquiry into the grounds and principles of faith, that so we ourselves may be well instructed and confirmed therein, and be likewise ready to give an answer to those who ask us a reason of the hope that is in us.
7. Consider the most effectual methods for attaining the knowledge of the grounds and reasons of our holy religion, and our ability to vindicate and explain them to others as we shall have occasion.
(1) We must in all humility by frequent and importunate prayer apply ourselves unto God the Father of lights, the great Author of wisdom and knowledge (Ephesians 1:17, 18; James 1:5; Colossians 1:9).
(2) We must make the Scriptures our continual and serious study (2 Timothy 3:15, 17).
(3) We must exercise ourselves unto godliness (Psalm 25:12-14; Psalm 119:100; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 3:32; John 7:16, 17; John 14:21).
(4) A devout and conscientious attending upon religious assemblies will be very profitable to the Christian in this affair (Ephesians 4:11-15).
II. THE CHRISTIAN IS INDISPENSABLY BOUND CONSTANTLY TO ADHERE TO THE TRUTHS AND PRECEPTS OF THE GOSPEL, AND, WHEN CALLED THEREUNTO, TO CONFESS THE TRUTHS AND OBSERVE THE PRECEPTS THEREOF, EVEN IN THE MOST DISCOURAGING JUNCTURES.
1. Our Lord has in the plainest and most peremptory terms, and with the most weighty sanctions, obliged all His follower's constantly to adhere to His doctrines and precepts; and, when called thereunto, to confess the one and obey the other, when persecution threatens or attends the doing either of them (Matthew 10:37-39; Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 14:25-27).
2. The Christian is bound to the performance of this duty by the laws of the highest equity and justice; and the doing otherwise would involve him in the guilt of the most criminal iniquity and unrighteousness to his sovereign Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
3. The wilful and deliberate renouncing of the Christian faith, or any of the articles and precepts thereof, with a design to avoid persecution thereby, or to retain or acquire the advantages of this world, is at once an instance of the most horrible impiety, of the vilest falseness and dishonesty, and of the most abject cowardice. The apostate plainly declares that he fears weak man more than Almighty God, that he prefers the transient things of time to the infinite joys of eternity.
4. What in the most dangerous seasons ought to prevail with the Christian to be steadfast and firm in professing the truths, and obeying the precepts of his holy religion, is that his constancy would tend very much to the glory of God, the interest of religion, and the advantage both of the friends and enemies of truth and righteousness.
5. The disciples of Jesus Christ are both exceeding encouraged and obliged to a noble and bold adherence to the truth and their duty in the time of persecution, by His glorious example, and that of confessors and martyrs under the Old and New Testaments.
III. THE QUALIFICATIONS WHICH MUST ACCOMPANY AND ADORN THE CHRISTIAN IN THE DISCHARGE OF THE DUTIES CONTAINED IN THIS INJUNCTION.
1. Calmness and patience of spirit, whereby the Christian may avoid exasperating the adversaries of the truth by wrath and passion while he vindicates the same.
2. A holy and religious fear, lest by an indiscreet and unwarrantable zeal, or any other sinful misbehaviour, he should offend God, or give just offence unto men, and particularly to his lawful governors.
3. A good conscience founded upon a blameless and Christian behaviour, by which he may be able to silence or refute the calumnious reproaches of heathens and infidels.
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;