Partakers of the Divine Nature.

It is interesting to observe in 2 Peter 1 the grounds upon which the exhortations of that chapter are founded. (1) According to His divine power God hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, verse 3; (2) He hath given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, verse 4. These then are the grounds; and the object proposed is that through these we should become partakers of the divine nature. This makes evident that the expression at the head of this paper answers not to the new birth, but expresses a practical state wrought in us as the moral result of the work of the Spirit of God. Wonderfully have we been endowed with God's "all things," for all things that pertain to life and godliness are ours, and not only so, but with all the promises of God, the greatest and most precious, which "in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." And the object He has had in this has been, that we should become like Him by the action of the Holy Ghost in conforming us to Christ, that, being morally more and more after His pattern, we should evidence practically His divine nature of which we have partaken.

"Beside this" is weak; let us take the better rendering, "For this very reason," says he, on this very account, using all diligence. What a rebuke is this to our laxity and lukewarmness, our negligence and indolence; and if we glance down to the tenth verse we read, "The rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." Again, in twelfth verse, he seems to say as to himself, "And I also will use diligence" (foot note, New Trans.) We have thus a chain of allied thought, as though he said, How diligently hath God wrought for you; how rich, how precious the result of (1) His diligence. Now (2) for yours also, and "for this very reason." (3) Nor will I be lacking, but will myself use diligence on your behalf, putting you always in remembrance of these things; for though you know them, and are established in the present truth, yet so long as I am in this tabernacle it is meet that I should stir you up by putting you in remembrance. (See also 2 Peter 3:1.) Then follow (verses 5-7) the fruits of active diligence - faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, endurance, godliness, brotherly love, and love - a cluster of living, loving fruit, well calculated richly to repay diligence!

Further, the existence of these things abounding in us shall testify (v. 8) that we are neither barren nor unfruitful as regards the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; in other words, as to the person of Him who Himself diligently trod the path of testimony here, and in view of our fruit-bearing, left us an example to follow His steps. On the other hand, their absence witnesses against us that we are blind, or at the best see only what is close at hand, and have forgotten, not exactly that we are purged, but the purging from our old sins, in other words, have forgotten the cross; for he who forgets the cross of Christ can never give to the person of Christ its moral claim or value in the path of testimony. The apostle's aim was to bring things back to remembrance, and how needed it was we plainly see from the fact that even the cross was forgotten or displaced, and blindness or short-sightedness the issue.

He sought that the rather (v. 10) they should give diligence to make their calling and election sure. A thoroughly practical word this for every one of us. The calling and election is not of us, but of God; but the making it sure is not of God, but of us. The apostle clearly implies too, that if neglected we cannot wonder should we stumble or fall. Let us then challenge ourselves whether or not we are habitually making good what God hath wrought for us. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance:" the prodigality of His blessing is as marvellous as it is magnificent. Shall we therefore trifle or be indolent? The Church at Corinth was wonderfully enriched, but her moral state was simply shocking! Laodicea even more so; rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing, but morally wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked! Let us give heed to this, if indeed we have an ear to hear.

Every blessing bestowed prefers a claim that it be put out to interest for Him who, as it were, never relinquishes proprietary rights in all that He confers. Were we asked to cite anything with which responsibility is not connected, we should probably say, "The calling and election of God;" yet it is this which He calls upon us to give diligence to make sure! Or should we try again, we should probably say, "Well, salvation, at all events, is alone of God;" yet it is that very thing which we are bidden to work out with fear and trembling! Do these exhortations then imply uncertainty? Nay, the very reverse. It is because they are so securely certain, and so blessed for ever, that we are asked to exhibit a practical confirmation day by day of their being the divine realities and eternal verities that they are.

Moreover, the apostle would endeavour that after his decease these things should live for ever in the memory of the saints. Thus by the Spirit of God have they been handed down even unto us for our profit, while we wait for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. To us the word of prophecy is made even more sure, and we do well to take heed to it until day-dawn comes upon the soul and the morning star arises in the heart.

I pass over the second chapter, which is denunciatory rather than admonitory. In the closing chapter are seven admonitions, all in view of the Lord's coming.

1. To be mindful of Scripture, the words and commandments of the prophets and apostles of Christ. (v. 2.)

2. Not to be ignorant of the eternity of God, in nature and ways. (v. 8.)

3. To be observant of the holy citizenship and godliness that becomes us. (v. 11.)

4. To be looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God. (v. 12.)

5. To be diligent that we be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (v. 14.)

6. To beware of stumbling through the wiles of the devil. (v. 17.)

7. To "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever." Amen. (v. 18.)

Let us in conclusion observe, that the purpose of all holy admonition is, that we may be partakers of the divine nature. In other words, the exhortations given us of the Holy Ghost are in precise and perfect accord with His own practical and diligent effort to assimilate us in the whole spirit of our minds, the purpose of our hearts, and the tenor of our lives and ways, to the glorified One who is in the presence of God for us; for moral perfection consists in being perfectly like Christ (alas! how all have failed in this), for He stood here in exact perfect relation as a man both to all persons and to all things that were around Him.

May the Holy Ghost so occupy us with Him, in the grace and excellency of His person, that we may more vigilantly detect every disparity in ourselves, and more diligently follow Him whom we have believed, for His precious name's sake! W. R. (D).