<13018E> 216 The Similarity of the epistle of Jude and One Part of the second epistle of Peter*

{*[Though this paper be not one of verbal criticism, it is inserted here as falling under the head of "Critical" more naturally perhaps than any other. — Ed.]}

The similarity of the Epistle of Jude and one part of the Second Epistle of Peter has attracted the attention of, I may say, all critical and most (even attentive) readers of scripture. All manner of speculations and methods of accounting for it have been resorted to and discussed, to which I shall not now direct the attention of your readers. My increasing conviction is, that any one reading the word of God, with the help of the Holy Ghost, will know far more of it than any learned speculator, who, in virtue of the way he takes it up, has not the key to scripture, and misses the proofs even of its divine authorship which shine out with unhindered brightness to one taught of God. It must be remembered that science on points of learning has no occupation where things are not obscure, and hence lives in doubt and darkness. Where a thing is clear and certain, there is no use for it. My object will be here rather to notice the peculiar character and object of the epistles.

I will only add this remark: the little attention I have been able to pay to the wanderings of the human mind, has convinced me that the blessed word of God has not only furnished direct truth from Him, which is its most sweet and gracious object, but it has met all the errors into which the working of the human mind about God has led men. When once one becomes ever so little familiar with these wanderings, the corrective analogies of scripture statements, the way in which the manner of teaching the truth meets them all, cannot fail to strike the mind. Infidels (who did not fail of course to find them out, and who had no sense at all of the holiness and grace which shine in the word and assure the simple mind who its Author is, but occupying themselves with mere external circumstances connected with it) alleged they were borrowed from Egyptians, Alexandrian Jews, and I know not who else. Grave and serious men — as Gale in his "Court of the Gentiles," and the like — sought to shew that the Gentiles had borrowed them from the Jews. I do not myself believe either to be correct.

217 Noah and the first patriarchs had a large knowledge of God as then revealed in creation, judgments, and testimony; of promises, warnings, sacrifice, etc.: and as to the early events of divine history, they were much more familiar with the details than we are. But man did not like to retain God in his knowledge, and idolatry was set up, and (with many traditions of these early times preserved, and various deeds of wickedness which made the mighty men which were of old the "men of renown" of after ages, as scripture speaks, preserved in their memory) an immense system was established, in which shreds of ideas of the true God, mental speculations about Him, facts as to the deluge, its character, causes, and author, dim remembrance of paradise, vivid recollections of wickedness before the flood, and of the persons spared in it, the greatness of men's rebellion exalting the men of renown into gods (while yet they are treated as reprobate, so as to puzzle mythologists); the sun, moon, and stars brought in, peopled by the imagination with a personified existence of the departed great ones; a knowledge that the serpent was the cause of the evil and of knowledge, yet therefore worshipped as God; hence the flood looked at as vengeance, yet mixed up with the serpent having to say to it; the deification of the ark itself as a preserving mother connected with the earth itself as the womb of nature and of all things; and all this mixed up with the most degraded and degrading superstitions that corrupt human nature could indulge in practised, yet mystified into abstract notions — all were used by Satan to obscure and confound the mind, and leave to conscience, which he could not help, some possible shady Tartarus and Elysium, or the transmigration of souls, and, as Paul declares, some "unknown god" to be declared to them.

The whole process is exactly depicted in Romans 1. Volumes of heathen mythology may be read, but the whole result is there depicted, it is the most perfect picture of it all, not a moral element of it lost. Now this to me is divinely perfect; it knows, judges the whole scene, and dismisses it with that just estimate, leaving the mind free to appreciate in the clear atmosphere of the true God's presence, and breathing that pure air, all that grace and truth can reveal in the person of Jesus Christ, and the gospel of His grace, to enjoy the truth.

This is merely a striking example of what scripture is in this respect. I do not believe that there is a maze of falsehood (sometimes with elevated approximations to truth in the way of knowledge, but never to any relationship of man with God), not an error by which Satan has deluded man and kept him thus from God, which is not met in the word. We may have more need for this than we are perhaps aware of. My conviction is, that the world — for the non-entity of infidelity cannot satisfy it — will fall back into delusions of mystical and mythological idolatry in a way very little suspected. Men will have no need to believe this. It may be a mental speculation for some, an image for the imagination for others, a habit acquiesced in by all, the power of Satan riveting the delusion on the mind. It has a hold which is not faith, but which is power over the mind of man. How many believed the golden image in the plain of Dura was a god? How many refused to bow down to it? And when once set up, acquiesced in, when for mercenary motives, men have bowed to it, and thus their moral power is lost; when power enforces it, amusements and ease, and national associations or hopes interest in it, men ready to accept it, explaining it by mental subtleties connected with the mysterious power of nature, and, having abandoned conscience and the true God, having lost His safeguard — Satan's network is complete, and the superior influence he exercises over their mind, besides the apparent wonders he may work, binds them without escape to that which they do not perhaps believe nor love: they cannot — but are entangled in — like from interest, while they despise and fear.

218 Allow me to make a remark here. One may ask, How should the blessed word of God occupy itself with all these horrible perversities? We have to be simple concerning evil, and wise concerning that which is good. Surely we are. And this is exactly what scripture has happily made men comparatively, wherever it has been received. These miserable horrors have died down even from society as a system, and been forgotten. Thank God it has! It has been a deliverance of man even outwardly in relationship with God. And it is one of the perfections of scripture, that it has done it by the revelation of good, so as not to enter into, though briefly judging in its moral character, the evil it met with in the world, and, as I have already said, has thus left the mind free to be occupied with good. God forbid that the saints should get out of this blessed position! It is just their special blessed privilege from God; and I believe the word to be their complete arming in every respect, supposing always the strength and aid of the Holy Ghost — grace working in the heart. And see how wise in this is scripture, that is, our God in His word. When this kind of evil is met with, it is discovered and judged. A man versed in the mischief, finds it alluded to, judged, guarded against, by the form of some truth. The simple saint gets the truth itself in all its power, and never learns the mischief at all. The moment one has learned it, it is condemned and shewn to be false. Man, in reasoning, would have displayed — developed — all the evil to answer it, and filled the mind with it; but He who is goodness and light can dispel evil and darkness, according to the perfectness of His divine wisdom, by the display of Himself, yet in such sort that no one but must see they are opposite to what He does display, if the mind has them before it: yet he who enjoys the good and the light has no need to turn to the other to know light is light, and goodness good. The measure in which God does touch on these confines of darkness is the measure in which in grace it is needed by men.

219 Now the light of Christianity — I do not say its living power merely — has banished all these spectres of evil in their obvious and direct power; or rather they are become spectres, furnish the materials for mythological dictionaries, classical lore, and learned speculation, Asiatic researches, Egyptian hieroglyphics, pantheons, or the newest raised winged bulls of Nineveh to be gazed at in a museum. The public mind knows it only thus; and hence the saint's mind has no connection with it. But it was not so when the scriptures were written. The public mind was full of them, though philosophers began to speculate and to scorn, and many to be weary of them. Still habits were all formed on them. When Paul healed an impotent man, they were going to offer him sacrifice; and the dignified silence of Barnabas set him up to their minds as Jupiter; and the fervent discourse of Paul established him in their eyes as Mercury. If he was stung by a viper, Nemesis (vengeance) would not suffer him to live; and when he received no harm, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

As to the mass, this system was connected with power, and when they saw power, they still attributed it to what were devils and not God; and so imbedded was this in their mind, that even speculative minds, the novelty-hunting Athenians, thought he was a setter forth of new gods, because he preached Jesus and the resurrection, taking the last (I suppose) for a goddess. And so did this seek to encroach, through man, on the divine work to spoil it, that the spirit of Pythoness will announce Paul and Silas, the instruments and servants as those of the most high God, not speaking indeed of Jesus, but accrediting herself by associating her testimony with them. And your Simon Magus would purchase this preferable power which threatened to eclipse his own, the hollowness of which he knew well enough to be surprised at the reality. The power of Satan was met by something like itself, only true and divine. When the mind now pries into the evil then prevalent, it discovers the allusion. Scriptures do take up the fables of idolatry which were then clothed with the energy of satanic power, and allude to and judge them. They preceded the judgment pronounced upon them, and the forms in which truth was expressed so as to condemn them, and deliver the enslaved mind. Jewish ceremonialism was a laborious system to preserve by most gracious care some men at least in the knowledge of the true God, and that knowledge by them, when the degradations of abominable idolatries were carrying all before them, till the true Light and promised Seed should come. God would not have a second deluge; the world is reserved for fire. He would have something preserved amid the moral deluge with which Satan had overwhelmed the mind of man. The truths were from the beginning, many of the great facts recorded in scripture notoriously before the record of them; the corruptions man's first effort, the remedy wrought out for them in clothing the truths in certain positive revelations, judging and preserving from corruptions, God's gracious and merciful interference. That is the real history of the world; at least for my part I do not doubt it.

220 Hence, while the truth as revealed is enjoyed by saints historically as to creation and all God's subsequent ways with men, and in fine the light itself in Him who created, in whom grace and truth came, those who pry into the old evil, now a matter of learned lore, find in scripture the allusions and reference to it. The forms of truth there meet the corrupted truth and corruptions which Satan had entangled man in. And as the universal mind was familiar with these things then, even the New Testament alludes to them. But here a distinction is to be made when the full blaze of divine light shone out in Christ to form the new thing. There was need of naught but that — God Himself fully revealed. Truth, grace, power, all in actual exercise, what was a Simon Magus or an idolatrous speculation? It faded into its own nothingness before the light. We know (for we all have knowledge) that an idol is nothing. The shadows in every sense fled away. The life was the light of men. What could even (to say nothing of the blaze of truth) a cast-out devil or a silenced oracle do, save make its votaries rage against those who wielded a power which would not own it, and which, absolute, universal, and inexorable in its claims as the true God must be, would brook no fellow (whatever grace it might act in) — receive no conciliating homage from what it came to destroy — against those who overthrew delusion and destroyed power (every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God), delivering man from under Satan's thraldom maintained through both: which dealt indeed with Judaism as the depository of truth as long as any fear of God was by the utmost patience to be hoped for, but then judged it as sinking into the common level, as associated, in its enmity to the power it would not acknowledge, with the idolatry it had been a witness against?

221 But alas! for men were still the depositories of truth, and the Lord to give it its full heavenly character was gone on high. This revealing energy of good gradually declined. The truth doubtless remained the same. Blessed be God! it is written truth, but the vessel of its living manifestation lost its conservative energy. And the power of the enemy began to creep in there where the power of deliverance for others ought to have been found. And remark here, the Church's energy and power is in grace, in God. If it is only a delivered, it is a weak body. It must be a delivering body to be a preserved one, because that is the power of God's presence in Christ, and in Christianity. Mark the humblest gathering of saints, or an individual Christian. If there is not energy of positive testimony which acts on others, there is decline. God in grace cannot be inert in testimony in a world of sin. It would be a contradiction in the very terms.

Hence in the decline of Christians we find constant allusions to all manner of kinds of evil lost sight of, so to speak, in the light of the earliest promulgation of Christianity. Take the Epistles to Timothy, those of John, even the Colossians and Galatians already, Peter, Jude. False teachers, corruption, apostasy, Antichrists, Antichrist, begin to appear in the waning light of the Church. This decline of the Church is the capital source of the evil, but not the only form it takes. The delivering power once enfeebled, the old suppressed evils rise again, modified perhaps, as it would be to meet the case, but the same* — human corruption and self-will, idolatry or heathenism, Judaism bereft of all that was of God in it, speculations into the ways of an unseen world.

{*Galatians 4:8, 9, shews that Judaism without God was heathenism.}

222 This divides itself into two great branches. First, man's relationship to God as such, which was corrupted in heathenism, and set right, though without a full revelation of God which man could not have borne in Judaism, and with a full revelation perfectly set right in Christianity, a point often lost sight of, yet insisted on by the apostles in their preaching among the heathen or where heathen were; and, secondly, the special relation in which revelation set men with God, and especially Christianity as superseding all others by its public light, that is, the responsible position of the Church on earth as set of God in the place of testimony — to keep and witness the good thing. One related to the government of the world, men, Jews, Christians, as walking responsibly on earth, right on to the end, connected with sin and righteousness as such before God (of course including and judging by the light of Christianity and the rights of Christ now). The other, to the special responsibilities and failure of the Church, as established as a witness on earth of the heavenly things she had in connection with an exalted Saviour on high.

This then gives a double current of testimony as to evil. On the one hand, the departure or apostasy of the Church as a professing body here below, of course making way for the other evils, while a special one within itself; on the other, heathenism (in whatever form of development), Judaism, revolt of man against God, corruption: the latter, between man and God; the former, between the professing church and its peculiar judgment. I cannot now enter into Paul's view of it. You will find it in 2 Thessalonians 2 in its prophetic character, the power of evil working, and in 2 Timothy 3, in its moral character. On part of this I may touch another time, if I can, the Lord permitting. I may notice also here the testimony of John, which views it in connection with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fruits and character of divine life, as manifested in man, in Him and so in us, as that which thus doubly tested the true knowledge of God. But I must confine myself now to Peter and Jude. Now Peter takes up this whole question in connection with man's relationship with God, of course in the light of Christianity, the government of the world: Jude, the relationship of the Church with God and Christ, as the responsible vessel of testimony in grace.

223 Common evils were before the eyes of both — evils connected with the rising up again of the power of old corruptions and perversions of truth, freshly preserved even from the time of Noah himself; but they are treated in a different way. Peter speaks of sin against God; Jude, of apostasy from the place in which any had been set. There were three great principles of evil at the time — mental speculations into an unseen world (and the powers of nature and production), what seemed humility, but intruded into things it had not seen, vainly puffed up in a fleshly mind; this connected with the alleged evil of matter, whence prohibitions to marry, to eat meat, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. It is commonly called Gnosticism. The second was Judaism, the third heathenism; all opposed to Christ, all coalescing; Gnosticism forming the link between heathenism and Judaism, and of all of which the elements will be found in the corruption of Christianity which calls itself the Church, and have made of it, looked at in man's responsibility, the great power of evil in the world.

Redemption by the work of the Lord, and regeneration by the word, are clearly stated in the first epistle of Peter. But it is not my object to unfold this here. The Christian is seen, as the scattered* Jews had been, a pilgrim in the midst of the world in which he is a stranger. He is not seen, as so often in Paul's epistles, risen with Christ, and sitting in heavenly places, but as walking on the earth, though begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance reserved in heaven for him, and he kept by the power of God for its revelation in the last time. Hence also there is little development of doctrine in Peter — much direction how to walk. The revelation of Christ will bring the full deliverance. Till that time they were to hope to the end, having the loins of their mind girded, and sober. Hence, while the great fundamental truths of salvation and eternal life are clearly stated for the salvation of souls, we have the government and dealing of God with men and saints in this world. If a man love life, and would see good days, he is to behave so and so. Who could harm them if they followed what was good ? If they suffered for righteousness' sake (compare Matt. 5:10), they were happy, they were to sanctify the Lord of Hosts, and not to be troubled. It was not a warning not to grieve the Holy Spirit, but as pilgrims and strangers to refrain from what warred against the soul; under evil to be patient, as Christ had borne everything. They are not looking to join Christ in heaven by resurrection, but for Him to come for deliverance. Meanwhile the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ear open to their prayers. Blessed and consoling truths! but which evidently regard saints down here, and God's government of the world.

{*The epistles of Peter are undoubtedly addressed to the dispersed believing Jews as such. It was Peter's well-known office. Indeed it is astonishing how learning should have given itself so much trouble about it, as the apostle says so: about the παρεπιδήμοις τῆς διασπορᾶς there can be no doubt.}

224 So we have Noah saved through the judgment of the world by water. The gospel has been preached that men may be judged or live. The time was come that judgment should begin at the house of God, clearly on earth. The righteous are with difficulty saved across the dangers and harassments of Satan's power: what shall be the end of the sinner and the ungodly? Still they are to commit their souls in well-doing to God as to a faithful Creator. Hence, though the full declaration of the Father and of the Spirit is found, yet, generally speaking, God is spoken of as God having to do with men as a Creator — Governor; and Christ is Lord, not Son, which indeed He is not called in the Epistle. This but shews its perfectness; everything is in its place and divine order. It falls in with the preaching of him who announced that God had made that Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ. As such He is presented here. Still the truth is plainly there. Blessings are demanded for them from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second Epistle goes farther on into the evil than the opposition of an ungodly world and a need of chastisement to the Church. Apostolic care was soon to fail; and he would put in writing, for their after-security, what would put them on guard against other forms of wickedness than a hostile world. The kingdom still is the limit of their hope, save in the one word at the horizon — " the day-star arise in your hearts." The power and coming was what He had declared, and he desired their abundant entrance into the kingdom. The mount of transfiguration had confirmed the prophets in their testimony to that manifested glory which men could see, which Peter and his two fellow disciples had seen on earth; and the prophets prophesy of events on earth, though they testify to Christ's ascent to heaven, as does the apostle also (1 Pet. 3:22).

225 But this righteous government goes farther than the kingdom. The wicked, who trusted in what eye could see and what to man's wilfully deceived heart was stable, would be met by a judgment which will set aside all that dust can trust in: the day of fire and perdition of ungodly men, when the whole goodly scene of an adorned world will melt under the fervent heat of the fire which God's wrath has kindled. He who can create can destroy, and He who has destroyed all form and comeliness can create anew, and will — new heavens and a new earth, where sin will not be. The flood had, once and for a time, in vain cleansed a polluted world from its horrible defilement, and left but a memory of the guilt and the catastrophe as a warning to rebellious men. In vain. Nature renewed its order, and man his sin, and he willingly believed that it had been so from the creation, and would be so yet onward. That Christ should come was mocked at. Here we are evidently in questions of the judgment of the world — of men. It is a scene which runs through from creation to the fiery judgment of the world, then formed, at the very end of its eventful history, man righteous or wicked before God — the world the scene of the display of His government. Only the last days, which then He will have to say to, were to be characterized by mocking at the coming of the righteous Judge closing the day of patience, and bringing in the day of judgment.

Now, in this scene, two classes are brought in, the righteous and the wicked: only a peculiar character is given to the form under which, as regards Christians, the wickedness would flow in. False teachers bring in heresies of perdition, denying the Master who bought them. It is not the Lord here in the sense of Jesus our Lord; it is He who by purchase has a title over all men. The head of every man is Christ. It is not all, that God has power over all men, all flesh; Christ has power over all flesh, and this by right of purchase as well as creation. This they will resist. It is not a question of abandoning church privileges, but a denial of divine rights which judgment will settle, and of which the melting of the whole scene when man has figured in his own eyes with haughty pretensions, while He who could put them to the proof was away, would be the final confusion — the close of the scene in which such folly would be displayed. Hence he recalls the great instances and examples of similar judgments. The angels sinned: they are down in chains of darkness reserved to judgment. Noah, the preacher of righteousness, was spared, the world of the ungodly destroyed; Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown for an example to the ungodly, and righteous Lot delivered. The Lord then knows how to deliver the godly, and to reserve the unjust to a day of judgment to be punished — till then, patience and godliness.

226 The great characteristics of the evil are human will shewn in haughty pretensions and rejecting authority — the restraint of God on the soul gone — the lordship of Christ denied by them and rejected; and, with it, haughty rejection of all authority came in: with this the will, which cast off what was above it, indulged itself in the vile gratification of its own fleshly lusts.

But this was brought in by covetous false teachers using feigned words. This was in connection professedly with the way of truth, so that it was evil spoken of. Thus we see in Peter the evil connected with the Church, characterized by rejection of Christ's lordship, self-will, and lust. It is wickedness, though it has sprung up in connection with the truth. And it is wickedness looked at in the presence of a God who judges the earth, and has given solemn proofs of it, and reserves the angels for it — a faithful Creator who will preserve the souls of the faithful across it all; and judgment is looked at as reaching on to the dissolution of the elements of this visible creation. God is a God of judgment, and, though slow to anger, will surely punish wickedness. This excludes the mere idea of special apostasy. Angels sin; the world is ungodly; Sodom and Gomorrah live ungodly, and judgment awaits them, or has been executed; and so it will on these despisers of Christ and all lordship. Every hope of nature will perish in nature's dissolution under God's hand.

I would add, in passing, that this makes clear a passage which has often perplexed people — preaching to the spirits in prison. It relates only to those of the time of Noah. Peter speaks of Christ's Spirit in the prophets. The believers were a little flock: so was Noah's family. Christ was present only in Spirit: so He was in Noah's time; yet those that despised it were in prison, and such would be the portion of those who slighted the testimony of Christ by the Spirit now. They would be reserved in prison for judgment. So it was with the Old Testament saints then dead. Promises had been announced to them, not possession given; so that, as walking as men on earth, they were thereby subject to judgment accordingly; and, if the testimony were received, live according to God in spirit as saints were called to do now.

227 A God judging walkers on earth, and looking for righteousness; at last a new heaven and new earth, wherein it dwelt: such is the testimony of the Holy Ghost by Peter.

I now turn to Jude. Here we shall find the Church and the falling away from its standing, the leading subject of the Spirit. He was giving diligence to write of the common blessed subject of their edification, but was forced to turn to write on evil coming in. The Church itself (the witness of good in the midst of, and thus against, evil) was becoming, by its decline, and this subtle secret work, the vessel itself of mischief. It is not teachers bringing in pernicious ways, so that the way of truth should be evil spoken of. Men were crept in unawares amongst Christians themselves who were ungodly, turning grace into lasciviousness; they denied the only Lord God (the word Lord is the same word as the "Lord" that bought them, not the usual one, and means the absolute authority of a master over his slaves). In 2 Peter it is the Master that bought them; here the dominion and absolute authority of God as such and Christ's lordship with it. They are the same class as Peter speaks of; but there they were covetous teachers of wickedness, here creepers into the Church who got in among the saints. They were in their love feasts, feasting with them fearlessly; and these were the objects of judgment as testified from the beginning of the world, from Enoch's witness, who, caught up to God in heaven, testified to the world what was coming on it from the Lord, through the ungodly, whose proud speeches had spoken loud against Him. The evil Enoch spoke of was this ungodliness and resistance against the Lord, of those who said "Our tongues are our own: who is Lord over us?" Jude shews how it comes in. The Church which, in a certain sense, was delivered out of the world, having in its bosom these creepers-in possessed of this spirit, was in danger, as a body on the earth, of departure from its standing, as all who had gone before it. It had been set outside the world to shew the goodness and holiness of God, and not merely the one God's sole authority, but the lordship of Jesus Christ. If this let in what denied it and lost its first estate, the only remedy was judgment and not another witness. Hence apostasy and leaving their first estate is the point pressed here, not the fact of wickedness.

The angels are not simply such as "sinned"; they left their first estate and kept not their own habitation; they are reserved for judgment, as Sodom and Gomorrah, going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example. It is not here the rescue of any remnant, but the simple judgment on their leaving nature's path. So, though Israel were redeemed out of Egypt, God afterwards destroyed them that believed not. The evil then was not maintaining their original standing. This might be natural evil, as Cain; or religious, as Balaam; or openly rebellious, as Core. When it took this character, perdition comes in. They are twice dead, naturally, and by apostasy, after professing; they had no real fruit: what apparently they had, withered. They were clouds, but they had no water. The judgment will be executed against them when the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints; but they were creeping into the Church then. Hence, as it was connected with the present dispensation, the Church as a witnessing body on the earth, he does not talk of the day, nor of dissolution of the elements, but of the Lord's coming, which will judge the apostates of this present time. Further, Peter, speaking of the judgment of the world, speaks of Christ's being revealed to it, and on to the melting of the present frame of things by the fire of judgment. He does not speak of Christ's coming with respect to the saints, save as mocked at by the scoffers. Jude, dealing with the Church and the apostates of this dispensation, brings in the Lord with His saints judging them; but, when addressing directly his salutations to the saints, it is their being before Him. That is his ground, because he was dealing with the Church's portion — "now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty."

228 This inroad of old principles of evil, known from angels downward through the solemn judgments of the flood, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, were in view of both Peter and Jude. Peter applies it to the judgment of men and the world by God; Jude, to the witnessing body's ruin, and the apostasy of these not kept of God through the evil creeping into the Church, as the place of holy witness in and to the world.

Peter ranges over the whole scene of creation, from the angels' sin to the final dissolution of the elements into their primeval chaos, to be renewed into "a new heaven and a new earth;" and tells of a righteous sovereign God of judgment, who would not bear with sin, and cannot brook rebellion. Christ was set forth as Lord; but in judgment he tells of a faithful Creator, who ever spares and delivers the righteous, and has proved He will, so that He may be trusted. Righteous and sovereign title, and Christ's position in it, characterize the testimony of these epistles — God and the world are in view, and God in righteous judgment.

229 Jude comes down to a nearer and closer scene. Evil men have crept into the Church, and, corruption once in, the place of witness becomes the scene of the power of evil. The old evils arise, but, as taking their new birth-place in the Church, they give to these engaged in it the terrible character of apostasy. The flesh, great pretensions within the Church, ending in hard speeches against the Lord Himself; and then that judgment by His coming, of which the Lord of old had spoken by the mouth of Enoch, the ancient prediction of judgment finding its objects in the apostates from the last resource of grace. Their present character the New Testament unfolded. It was creeping into the Church for this purpose. The extent to which the imaginative part of Gnostic heathenism had gone; the way it had linked itself with Judaism; the way it had left the prints of its defiling foot-marks on nominal Christianity, on what has the public place of the Church, few (I believe) are aware.

The philosophic Jews believed that the stars were animated beings, which was Sabaism.*

{*I have very little doubt that "Lord and Giver of life," in one of the creeds, is derived from Egyptian idolatry, and that in it which was expressive of the worst evil of diabolical corruption: I merely speak of the expression, but it shews the influence which reigned.}

The influence of heathenism on the Fathers, particularly of the Alexandrian school, was frightful; no one can doubt that such as Origen and Clement were largely tainted with it. The inroad of the old evils into the western and less imaginative (and therefore more orthodox) Christendom was more plodding Judaism as to its character. Still it did not escape the inroad of evil. There is the worshipping of saints and angels; there is the forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats; there is pretended human righteousness by works and ordinances; there is really the lordship as well as the grace of Christ widely denied. That is, the elements of Judaism, Gnosticism, and heathenism, are all there — their development checked, but there, and characterizing the system — the mass having cast off the lordship of Christ really altogether. This element is restrained, but ever ready to burst out when God's restraint is taken off.

230 What a deliverance Protestantism was, in respect of all this, people are little aware. But that, alas, has lost its moral force; it has turned to infidelity. The light that is in it is become darkness on one side, where it had cast off the old Judaeo-heathenish Gnostic system; and on the other, where it retained some elements of this, having lost its vital power, it is returning to it again, as the dog to his vomit, to plunge itself wilfully, and therefore hopelessly, into the evil which God is about to destroy, because nothing but judgment remains. The masses, when mind is active, you will see, I doubt not, turn to rationalist infidelity; the upper orders and governmental powers to be under the influence of Judaeo-heathenism. Still, as yet, God holds the reins, and there is One, who, if He shuts, no man can open; if He opens, no man can shut; and in the energy of His grace, it is our part in all wisdom, for the days are evil, to assert the Lordship of Christ, the spiritual holiness of His name in the world, and the perfectness of His redemption, gift of a God of love when no good was in man, and perfect in reconciling us to Him. The written word is the great unchanging sure rule, where God Himself speaks; pointed out as the safeguard in the last days, when the pretensions of the Church, which contradict Christ's lordship (for I have a lord, not a lady, over me, and cannot serve two), and corruption, are rising up, as we wait daily for Him who shall present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

I have but sketched, and roughly I am quite aware without any false modesty, the great principles of these epistles; but I trust I have done it sufficiently according to the truth to enable saints in reading them to avail themselves of what I have said as a help, as far as it is such. If it awaken them to a sense of the dreadful character of the evil which is coming in, apostasy letting in the aggravated and more subtle flood of old evils long ago set up by Satan, and make them feel that they have really to do with the enemy, it will be really useful. Only let us remember that, while walking quietly through the world subject to the powers that be, as of God, not expecting men to harm us if followers of that which is good, happy if it is for righteousness or for Christ we suffer, Christians should be in nothing terrified by their adversaries, an evident token to them of perdition, and to themselves of salvation and that of God. And if Christ's Lordship be denied, covertly by setting up the Church's authority, or openly, they still believe He is Lord and with power to maintain His Lordship, even all power in heaven and in earth. Our part then is to keep the word of His patience, and our security and joy with Him will be complete.

231 Critical persons have been struck with the similarity of the subjects of part of Peter and Jude. It could not be otherwise; these are the expressions of the evil they were combating and which was then creeping in; the part that most strikes critics, the heathen were all thoroughly familiar with. The Spirit was dealing with what was before them. The way of dealing with it was quite distinct. The great public examples of judgment also were equally before and known to all; but Jude quotes an instance (Israel) to his purpose, which Peter does not; and Peter refers to final dissolution, Jude to Christ's coming with His saints. There is what must have been common; but the testimony as to it is perfectly independent.