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groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life. It is this prospect which inspires the Christian minister with holy triumph. He looks for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. He knows that from this frail, corrupt, and temporary shed, he is to pass to those abiding mansions of glory, where this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal have put on immortality; and the saying which is written shall be brought to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory! This glorious hope inspired your excellent Minister in his last moments with humble fortitude, and should fill you, even when weeping over his tomb, with sentiments of gratitude and resignation. You sorrow not as those without hope. The eye of faith can pierce even the darkness of the tomb, and see the Christian soldier called from a burthened tabernacle, and dropping the sinful incumbrances of a corrupt body, to put on the glorious body of immortality, to see his Saviour as he is, to be with him and enjoy him for ever. This is the promise which he hath promised us, even eternal life. It is the expectation of this speedy removal from all our labours and toils on the one hand, and all our opportunities
of usefulness on the other, which animates the Christian minister to the utmost exertion during the few moments which he has to pass on earth. This leads me to consider,
II. The EFFECT produced on the Apostle's mind by the consideration of the brevity and uncertainty of life-A resolution to use his utmost diligence to promote the welfare of the Church.
I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, he observes, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance. And in the verses which precede and follow the text: Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them and be established in the present truth. Moreover I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance (v. 12 and 15.). What an example of holy zeal and diligence in his apostolical office does this language propose to us; a zeal and diligence quickened as the approach of death was about to terminate his labours. The Apostle seems in it to resolve to employ all his endeavours in constantly exhorting the Christians to whom he wrote, to a remembrance of the special truths of religion which he had been previously inculcating. These things is the expression which he
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. 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