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twice uses to direct them to the topics which introduce the verses under our consideration.
This reference may be either generally to the doctrines which he had taught in the whole eleven verses of the chapter, or more particularly to the exhortation immediately preceding the text. In the first sense, by the things which the Apostle would have them always keep in remembrance, we are to understand the great doctrine of the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (v. 1.), the necessity of living and true faith, here called precious faith (v. 1), the grace and peace which flow from the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 2), the divine power which communicates all things needful for life and godliness (v. 3), the glory and virtue to which we are called by the Gospel (v. 3), the exceeding great and precious promises given unto us by our God (v. 4), the divine nature of which we are consequently made partakers (v. 5), and the fruits of holiness by which our abundant entrance will be secured into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour (v.5-11.).
But I rather conceive that the Apostle's reference is more limited. I think it will appear, if we consider the context, that the train of the argument requires us to confine it to the last of the general topics above enumerated. Besides this, says the Apostle (v. 5.), giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things (the same expression as in the verse preceding, and the verse following, the text) be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things (again the same terms) is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things (still carrying on the argument) ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore, continues the Apostle, in the paragraph of which my text is a part, I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things: and again, after the intermediate words of my text, Moreover I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. By this repeated mention of the same words of reference, his meaning is placed beyond all reasonable doubt.
The chief point, then, which the Apostle urges on the Christian disciples is, by diligence
in all good works, TO MAKE THEIR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE. He calls on them assiduously to add to their faith every Christian grace and virtue. He sets before them the great advantage of this conduct in preserving them from barrenness in the knowledge of Christ: and the dreadful state of those who have not a faith fruitful in good works, as it proves them to be blind and to have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. He then exhorts them, by diligence in these Christian graces and duties, to make their calling and election sure, tracing back, with humble gratitude, the fruits of grace to the faith from which they spring; their faith to the merciful calling of God; and their calling to that gratuitous love which chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will 5. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. In this holy and cautious deduction of their election from the fruits of faith and obedience, they might be assured they should never fall: but that an entrance should be admi
nistered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
On such topics, then, the Apostle professes his affectionate design of putting the Christians in REMEMBRANCE. He might have enjoined them on the churches by his apostolical authority, but he rather uses the mildness and affection of a friend or a parent. He would not excite any uneasy feeling by appearing to distrust their fidelity, but would simply stir them up to a recollection of what they knew and professed. The address of the sacred writers in enforcing truth, is every where remarkable. They speak not as having dominion over our faith, but as helpers of our joy". As a nurse cherisheth her children, 'so are they gentle amongst us. "We may learn from this language of St. Peter," observes the judicious Calvin, "that we should so moderate our admonitions that the persons whom we wish to benefit may not conceive they are treated unkindly or injuriously. We must take care, at the same time, whilst we guard against giving offence, to let instruction have its free course, and not to allow exhortation to cease." Thus the apostle Paul observes to the Romans, And I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all know
7 2 Cor. i. 21.
8 1 Thess. ii. 7.
ledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind. (xv. 14.) And indeed, how much have we need of being reminded! How treacherous are our memories! How soon do the lessons we have learnt lose their impression! And yet, what is truth, if iț be not present and operative? What advantage do we derive from instructions or principles, if they lie dormant in the mind? How necessary, then, are animated exhortations and faithful warnings on all the doctrines and duties and graces of the Christian life! "It is proper," observes the great author whom I have just quoted, "to exhort the faithful, for otherwise fleshly indolence will creep over them. Though therefore these Christians were established in the truth, and did not need information, yet they needed to be stirred up by admonitions, lest security and indolence, as is common, should overwhelm what they had rightly learnt, and should at length entirely extinguish it."
This sentiment is confirmed by the expression of the Apostle, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Even AdADVANCED AND WELL INSTRUCTED CHRISTIANS have need of perpetual exhortation. If they are indeed sincere and upright, they will rejoice to be reminded of their duties and their hopes; and if in any respects they are defective in their Chris