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more sensible of its reality. The more you appreciate his love, the more you will be sensible of your own vileness; and the more your heart acknowledges this, the more you will sorrow; but not sorrow without hope, in the growing assurance that, worthless and undeserving as you are, still peace shall, in Jesus Christ, be your portion for ever.
1 PETER i. 1, 2.
PETER, AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST, TO THE STRANGERS SCATTERED THROUGHOUT PONTUS, GALATIA, CAPPADOCIA, ASIA, AND BITHYNIA; ELECT ACCORDING TO THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE FATHER, THROUGH SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT UNTO OBEDIENCE AND SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.
YOUR attention has recently been called, by the services of our church, to that remarkable miracle which took place on the day of Pentecost. At that time there were gathered together "Jews, devout men out of every nation."2 And then, partly in consesequence of the miracle which they had witnessed, and partly in consequence of the exhortation of Peter, conviction was brought home by the operation of the Holy Spirit to the hearts of a considerable number. The words which I have selected for our consideration are the opening of Peter's first epistle; and it is somewhat remarkable that it is addressed to the strangers scattered throughout many of those very provinces and places which are 1 Preached on Trinity Sunday.
2 Acts ii. 5.
enumerated in the history as the places from whence those came who were first converted. So that we might regard this epistle in an interesting point of view, as the following up of that work; as the evidence of Peter's pastoral love, and of his desire to improve the knowledge of Christ in those who had first received it at his hands, to guard them against dangers, and to prepare them for courageous endurance, for the sake of the gospel they had embraced. But whether the idea that any part of those to whom he wrote were among the first converts on the day of Pentecost be well founded or not, is of little moment, inasmuch as my present purpose is not to consider what was peculiar to those to whom he wrote, but what they bore in common with all the children of God. That they were the "strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," was their distinctive feature; that they were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," is what every believer has a title to, equally with themselves; and it describes not their state only, but the state of every believer now present within these walls. It is not then to the connexion between the first preaching of Peter and the first epistle of Peter that I would direct your attention, but simply to the fact that there is that in this description in which we are all concerned; and that the salutation contained in this verse affords a suit
3 1 Peter i. 1, 2.
able subject for the day. We find in it a plain reference to the Trinity of persons in one Godhead, the Father electing, the Son redeeming, and the Holy Spirit sanctifying. These three have a distinct part in the work of man's salvation, and each of their offices is the office of God, and of God only. Election is the act of a God of infinite and divine sovereignty, and, as it is here referred to the Father, none will question it. Redemption, spoken of here as "the sprinkling of the blood of Christ," is an act of divine power, for none but an infinitely perfect and an infinitely holy being could have made an atonement for the sins of the world. And sanctification likewise as plainly implies a divine agent, for wherever omnipotent power is exercised the agent must be God. Now the sanctification of a creature that is "dead in trespasses and sins," is a work that requires no less than creative power, and creative power belongs only to God. This is indeed a mystery, and such to us it will continue until we are permitted to see God face to face in the brighter light of another world. But it is a mystery that calls for our contemplation, and of this we feel fully persuaded, that if any are unconcerned in the consideration of such subjects, or opposed to them, the real source of their indifference or their opposition lies in their indifference respecting salvation. It is when the salvation of Christ is applied powerfully to the soul that men begin to find the doctrine of the Trinity true, and to be concerned about it. Then 5 Ephes. ii. 1.
4 1 Peter i. 2.
the Father's electing love, and the Son's redeeming grace, and the Spirit's converting power, become the subjects of their anxious thoughts. And as every believer is a partaker in each of these acts of Almighty power and infinite love, (for it is not one only of these descriptions which are here given that belongs to the believer, but all,) so every believer has a distinct experimental acquaintance with the work of each of these three distinct persons; and is prepared to adore that triune God who hath chosen him before time, hath redeemed him in time, and will sanctify him until time shall be no more. May we be enabled to draw nigh in that feeling of interest; may neither repugnance to these truths drive us from the consideration of them, nor indifference deaden us to it; but, as beings who feel a personal and actual interest in them, may we contemplate this great mystery, which even the "angels," who have no practical concern in it, "desire to look into."6
From the words then before us, and with reference to the day, I purpose to consider the ELECTING LOVE OF GOD THE FATHER, the REDEEMING GRACE OF GOD THE SON, and the SANCTIFYING POWER of God THE HOLY GHOST.
The apostle, in the salutation before us, addresses the Christians as "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." We know that this is a vast and profound subject, where the mind of man may lose itself. And we feel that we should ap6 1 Peter i. 12.
7 1 Peter i. 2.