Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 4:18 - 4:18

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 4:18 - 4:18

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1Pe_4:18. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

EARNESTNESS in the concerns of religion is often thought unnecessary; but the attainment of salvation is by no means easy. This appears from the representations which the Scriptures give of religion; a race, a warfare, &c.

The difficulties implied in these metaphors may well alarm the careless. With this view St. Peter suggests the awful query in the text.

I.       His assumption—

The Apostle did not mean to express a doubt, but rather to assume a position which he deemed incontrovertible. The point he assumes is, that the righteous are saved with difficulty.

The truth of this position will appear, if it be considered that the righteous are not saved without,

Deep afflictions—

[God’s people are for the most part poor and afflicted [Note: Zep_3:12.]. They have much to endure on account of their religion [Note: 2Ti_3:12.]; and trials are for the most part necessary to their growth in grace [Note: 1Pe_1:7.]. If they were without affliction of some kind, they would have reason to doubt whether they were God’s children indeed [Note: Heb_12:8.]. Trials are to them, as the furnace to the gold, to purge them from their dross, and to fit them for the service of their God [Note: Heb_12:10.].]

Severe conflicts—

[None have made such high attainments, but they still have conflicts to maintain with Satan [Note: Eph_6:12.], and their indwelling corruptions [Note: Rom_7:15; Rom_7:23.]: it is by these that God keeps them humble [Note: 2Co_12:7.]. The images by which vital religion is set forth (as running, wrestling, fighting,) sufficiently attest the truth of my position. As long as two principles remain within us, our conflicts must remain [Note: Gal_5:17.].]

Powerful assistances—

[Who can get to heaven without them, or even do anything that is good without them? The aid we need, is such as nothing but Omnipotence can supply [Note: Eph_1:19-20.]: if ever we be kept at all, it must be by the power of God himself [Note: 1Pe_1:5.].]

A very slight view of the fact assumed will suffice to shew us the reasonableness of,

II.      The appeal he founds upon it—

The appeal is stronger than any mere assertion, inasmuch as it makes every man a judge in his own cause. It clearly intimates, that the perdition of the ungodly is,

1.       Most certain—

[The ungodly, no less than the godly, will be summoned to the judgment-seat of Christ; but the two will be separated as sheep from the goats, and widely different portions will be assigned unto them [Note: Psa_1:5.]. How can it be supposed to be otherwise, when the difference of their characters is considered? — — — If hell be not an abode fit for the righteous, much less is heaven a proper residence for the ungodly — — —]

2.       Most reasonable—

[We confidently appeal even to the ungodly themselves. If such troubles as are often inflicted on the righteous be permitted by God as the salutary purgations of his friends, what shall be inflicted by God as the vindictive chastisements of his enemies? If such things come on his friends in this state of probation, what shall come on his enemies at the time appointed for final retribution? If such be the visitations experienced by his friends in the day of his mercy, what must his enemies expect in the day of his wrath? Verily I shall wonder if the conscience of any man be either so blind or so obdurate, as not to feel the force of this appeal. If there be such a hardened sinner, let him consult, and provide an answer to, other similar appeals to Holy Writ [Note: Heb_2:3.] — — — To “die without mercy” is bad enough; but there is a “much sorer punishment” awaiting his unhappy soul [Note: Heb_10:28-29.].]


1.       How desirable it is to ascertain your true character—

[Surely it is no difficult matter to ascertain to which of the two forementioned classes you belong. Surely you may soon learn whether you are living in the daily habit of penitence, and faith, and unreserved obedience to your God. If God be true, your eternal state shall correspond with your character, whatever it may be [Note: Isa_3:10-11.] — — —]

2.       What is that line of conduct which common prudence demands—

[If there were no future state, you might go on in your own ways without much concern; but if repentance, faith, and obedience are essential constituents of the character of the righteous, say, whether it be wise to disregard, or even to defer them? The world may deride a life of piety as folly; but it is true wisdom: yea, “the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom.” Let every one then seek that righteousness, without which no man shall see the Lord.]