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2 Peter 1:3-4 - Homilies By J.r. Thomson

The bounty of God.

The lot of the primitive Christians whom the apostles addressed in their spoken and written utterances must, for the most part, have appeared to ordinary observers far from desirable. Not only were they drawn from the lowly and unconsidered classes of society, but they often had much to endure as a consequence of their reception of the gospel and their fidelity to Christ. Especially did they meet with the contempt of the great, on account of their adhesion to what the world deemed an unreasonable superstition, and with the hostility, now of a mob, and again of a governor, who attacked them with the weapons of persecution. Yet these primitive Christians took an independent view of their own position, and judged themselves very differently from the world's judgment. They were taught by their inspired instructors and counselors—as by St. Peter in this passage—to consider themselves objects of the Divine favour, recipients of the Divine bounty—nay, even partakers of the Divine life. Such an appreciation of their position and spiritual endowments might be deemed by their unenlightened and worldly neighbours mere fanaticism. But events proved that the Church of Christ was under no illusion in cherishing a profound conviction that all its true members were enriched with incomparable wealth, and called to a glorious destiny. High thoughts of privilege prepared for deeds of daring and of endurance; and the world which could not comprehend the Church's faith and claims was constrained to feel and to acknowledge the Church's power.


1 . His boundless power accounts for the plenitude and variety of God's bestowments upon his people. If we speak of him as "the Almighty," when considering his material creation and all its illimitable extent, and its teeming wonders, much more evidently is such an appellation justified when we turn to regard those higher manifestations of creative energy which are furnished in transformations wrought in the individual and the social life of man.

"'Twas great to speak a world from naught,

'Twas greater to redeem."

2. His wonderful generosity. The endowments of the Church arc said to be "granted" or "given." And this must have been so; for they are altogether beyond human acquirement, whilst nothing that man could do could earn such blessings. And when the sinfulness of the whole race of men is considered, the generosity which was expressed in the bestowment of such gifts upon such recipients must be acknowledged to be wonderful indeed.

II. THE SPIRITUAL GIFT . There are two parties to every gift, and in order to appreciate it, it is necessary to look at the gift in relation to him who gives and to those who receive.

1 . Looked at on their Divine side, these gifts are the fulfillment of "promises precious and exceeding great." It would be absurd and sinful to suppose that what God bestows upon his creatures is flung to them in a momentary and capricious fit of liberality. As a matter of fact, from the earliest periods of human history, from the time of man's "fall," the revelation of God had been one intended to inspire hope of salvation; and the primaeval promise had been renewed, both by language and by symbol, from age to age. These promises might not always be fully understood, clear as they are to us when we read them in the light of their fulfillment. But they were glorious with a glory exceeding any human assurances of help and blessing. And the purport of them all was to reveal a Divine intention to provide spiritual blessings—knowledge, deliverance, and life—for a needy and a sinful race. Great as were the promises, the fulfillment was greater still. A Saviour was promised, and in the fullness of time a Saviour came; the incarnation and advent of Christ were the accomplishment of the predictions and the purposes of eternal wisdom and eternal love. The diffusion of the Spirit throughout a society which needed enlightenment and healing and fertilization was the accomplishment of some of the most striking and poetical prophecies of Old Testament Scripture.

2 . Looked at on their human side, these Divine gifts include "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." A marvelously comprehensive description! Spiritual death and ungodliness prevailed in the world. And there was no human means by which their power could be destroyed and the salvation of men secured. But in the fulfillment of the Divine promises, in the mediatorial dispensation, in the coming of the Son of God, and of the Spirit of life and holiness, the amplest provision was made for the highest and immortal welfare of men. We may compare this declaration with the reasoning of Paul, who argues that he who spared not his Son, but gave him up for us all, will with him also freely give us all things.


1 . There is a call, a summons, an invitation of God. Very fine, very elevating and encouraging, is St. Peter's representation of the method adopted by Divine wisdom to secure that the gift shall not be lost. It is "by his own glory and virtue" that God calls us to salvation, i.e., by an exhibition of his natural and moral attributes eminently fitted to reveal himself to our hearts, and to produce upon those hearts a deep impression, winning them to faith, devotion, gratitude, and love. The beginning of good must be, and is, a movement on the part of the Almighty Ruler and Saviour.

2 . There is a consequent "knowledge" of our redeeming God, which the revelation makes possible to us, furnishing us with an object of knowledge. Such teaching as this is directly opposed to the agnosticism with which so many are content. Our Lord himself, in his intercessory prayer, laid the greatest stress upon the knowledge of himself and of the Father. Doubtless this is a knowledge of a higher kind than is our knowledge of nature; and it is far more powerful to affect the character, to mould the life. Yet it is knowledge which is within the reach of the lowliest and the least cultured. To know God in Christ is life eternal - J.R.T.

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