Pure Minds Divinely Stirred.

2 Peter 3: l.

None of the apostolic writings are more full of practical admonition than are those of Peter. In the epistles of Paul we have frequently one-half or more of doctrinal teaching constituting his thesis, followed by exhortations founded thereon. But in Peter's two epistles, after the introduction, which in the first occupies but twelve verses, and in the other only four, the hortatory portion begins, and constitutes the subject-matter, while doctrinal truth and denunciations of evil follow in its train.

The exhortations open in the first epistle with the stirring word, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind," the "wherefore" being the point of impact between the striking and powerful statements of the antecedent verses and the beloved saints to whom he wrote. Begotten again according to abounding mercy, kept by divine power along the wilderness way, having already the salvation of their souls, and waiting for their amaranthine inheritance in the heavens, they were subjects of a ministry and depositories of a line of truth, which, embracing the sufferings of Christ and the resulting glories, were what prophets had "sought out and searched out," and angels had desired to look into. These things, so long concealed in the germ, had now blossomed in the gospel which they had received in the power of the Holy Ghost come down from heaven. Reciting these salient and blessed facts which changed the whole current of their "conversation," both nationally and religiously, but which equally pertain to us, the apostle brings forward his "wherefore" with herculean force. What indeed might not be enforced in high exhortation upon such premises?

1. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind" - beautiful word for the Christian pilgrim. Diligence, devotedness, and unworldliness, are all implied in the girded loin. The loose flowing robes of the East would obstruct a man in labour, impede him in walking, and certainly contract injury or defilement over rough or dirty ground. Hence the necessity for a girdle, essential to secure the robe when any great work was in hand or an arduous journey taken, and more especially when the path was rugged, thorny, or defiling. How fitting then in its moral application is the exhortation to use the girdle, which, be it said, is ever in Scripture expressed as righteousness, faithfulness, or truth. How could we allow our robes to flow in such a scene as this, wet, as we may say, with the blood of Christ crying from the ground? Oh, for girded loins! Is it not a time for diligence, seeing that on the one hand the fields are white unto harvest, and on the other the sheep have but little pasture? Is it not a time for devotedness when "all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's?" and Paul's doctrine and manner of life are equally an offence. Is it not a time for unworldliness when more and more palpably the world exerts its every effort to be happy without Christ, so that what is not unmitigated evil is religious worldliness, worldly religiousness, or Christless Christianity?

2. "Be sober," or self-restrained. What a truly needed word is this! How many there are who know deliverance from their sins, and deliverance from this scene, but who know not practical deliverance from dominant self. Self-allowance is closely akin to self-assertion. On the other hand, self-judgment is the parent and the power of self-restraint. Every germ of self-allowing or self-asserting is in principle disloyalty to Christ. The true heart loves to confess there is no word more true and few more comforting than this, that we are not our own, but bought with a price.

3. Hope on, perfectly or steadfastly. Diligence and sobriety are here followed with confidence. Hope unto the end signifies fully, perfectly, the full assurance of hope (Heb. 6:11); hope which maketh not ashamed. Be it remarked that the New Testament sense of hope is never uncertainty, but immature or deferred certainty. Confidence, therefore, characterizes it as much as expectation; and thus, instead of being in doubt and uncertainty, in quietness and in confidence is our strength. The world has its hopes, but they are so steeped in uncertainty that the word hope has become almost synonymous with doubt; whereas the believer is so confident as to that which constitutes his hope, that he can say, "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. 8:25.) "The grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ" we surely see not. With patience then we wait for it, because our hope is steadfast and blessed. He will surely come, He will not tarry; and oh, what tides of blessing will His presence usher in! "The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

"He who, with hands uplifted,

Went from this earth below,

Shall come again all gifted,

His blessing to bestow."

4. The fourth thing is obedience - "as obedient children." Not the obedience of a servant or a slave, but the obedience of a child; or, to put it more forcibly and more accurately, "as children of obedience," the opposite of "children [or sons] of disobedience," which we were in our sins. (See Eph. 2:2, and Eph. 5:6.) Such obedience is never irksome when the heart is right with God and the will broken before Him. Could we conceive the will of the Father to have been ever irksome to Christ? Did He chafe under it? Nay; says He, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work." If, then, we ever find His will irksome, let us get into His presence in confession, being convinced there is something radically wrong, which only self-judgment can correct. "Children of obedience" is a lovely term for God's saints, implying as it does that that which is characteristic of us, and which we should sedulously cultivate, is spontaneous filial obedience. Who amongst us has not viewed with admiration the obedience of a loving and devoted child, unhesitating, unquestioning, uncalculating, and with the ready grace that stamps it as a service of love? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:3.)

Finally we have holiness. That which marked us in our unconverted state was lusts and ignorance; that which is to mark us now is divine holiness. "God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." (1 Thess. 4:7.) And He who hath called us, being Himself holy, says, "So be ye holy in all manner of conversation," or in every bit of your deportment; for if it savour of any contravention of holiness, this is a libel upon our calling, and upon Him who hath called us. That which should characterize us as saints is, on the contrary, that having got manumitted from sin and become bondsmen unto God, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. How striking and complete is the triple contrast in Romans 6:20 to 22.

(1) We were the bondsmen of sin, but are now the bondsmen of God.

(2) We had our fruit in things of shame; we have now our fruit unto holiness.

(3) The end of those things was death, but of this is everlasting life.

The Lord grant us to have girded loins in this day of general indifference and worldliness, and give us sobriety in place of laxity, confidence instead of the doubtful mind, obedience in place of self-will, and the scrupulous observance as saints of that holiness which becometh Himself and His house for ever. W. Rickards. (Derby).

One ray of the glory of Christ will at once wither up all the defiled glory of this world like an autumn leaf.

One great evidence of my dwelling in Christ is quietness. I have my portion elsewhere, and I go on.

Owning the word of God is owning God in this world as He has spoken.

We are only sure of the truth when we retain the very language of God which contains it.

The passover was the memorial of the deliverance out of Egypt for Israel. The Lord's Supper is the memorial not only of our deliverance, but of the love of Him who has delivered us.

When Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me," He surely meant that it should be done; but by these words He only gave a motive, and did not establish an ordinance.