1Pe_5:10-11. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
AMONGST the various testimonies of affection which faithful ministers will give to their people, that of praying for them is the most unequivocal, and most important. And in this the Apostles eminently distinguish themselves in all their epistles. In the petitions before us, we behold the glowing zeal of Peter, studious to exalt the honour of his God, and to promote to the utmost the welfare of the saints.
His words scarcely admit of any profitable distribution: we shall therefore make some observations on them, in the order in which they lie.
The first thing that calls for our attention is, the honourable appellation he gives to God—
[God is the only fountain of all grace. There is none in the creature, which has not been derived from him [Note: Joh_1:16.]. But in him is “all grace;” converting, comforting, sanctifying, establishing grace. He is “the God of” all grace: all kinds of it, and all degrees, are in him. Whatever be the grace that we severally want, we shall find an inexhaustible fulness of it treasured up in him. And, if we ask of him in terms of the most extensive import, and then stretch our imaginations far beyond what it is in the power of language to express, it still will be true, that “he giveth more grace [Note: Jam_4:6.];” and giveth it freely too, according to his own sovereign will [Note: Mat_20:15, 1Co_12:11.], even to the very chief of sinners.]
Next we have an account of what God has done for his believing people—
[God has “called them,” not merely by the outward ministry of his Gospel, (for that he has vouchsafed to thousands who reject him,) but by the inward operation of his grace. Nor is it to any common mercy that he has called them, but to “his glory,” yea, to the “eternal” enjoyment of it. What a stupendous act of grace! — — — Yet this is greatly heightened by the means which he has used for the communication of this blessing. He has sent it by the ministry, (by the ministry, do I say?—hear, O ye heavens, and be astonished, O earth!) He imparts it through the mediation of “Christ Jesus,” his only dear Son.
O that this glorious description of the Deity might always be remembered by us in our addresses at the throne of Grace!]
The petitions which the Apostle offered on behalf of the saints, were exactly such as their state required—
[They were now enduring “a great fight of afflictions:” and, in order that they might persevere unto the end, it was necessary that they should be “established” in the faith, “strengthened” in the profession, and “settled” in the enjoyment of the Gospel. For these things therefore the Apostle prayed; knowing, by bitter experience, that they must come from God, the only Author of such inestimable blessings
, though not noticed in the translation, seems to have considerable force.]. For these things also should our prayers be offered: and the consideration of what God is in himself, and has done for us, may well encourage us to offer the most enlarged petitions. If we “open our mouth ever so wide, we need not doubt but that he will fill it [Note: Psa_81:10.].”]
His prayers, however, were qualified with a very necessary concession—
[God has not given us any reason to expect an exemption from suffering: on the contrary, he has told us plainly, that our road to heaven lies through much tribulation [Note: Act_14:22.]. Even “Christ himself was made perfect through sufferings;” and every child of man must be conformed to him in this respect. Sufferings are sent to try, to illustrate, and to confirm our grace; and finally, to work out for us a proportionable weight of glory. The Apostle therefore did not presume to interfere with the established order of things; but only to pray, that their trials might be as light and transient, as would consist with the accomplishment of their proper ends [Note:
.]. In this respect he sets us a good example; and teaches us to desire rather a sanctified use of our afflictions, than a premature removal of them.]
To these he added a doxology well suited to the occasion—
[Who can reflect on what God is in himself, or on what he has done for us, or on what he is ready to do for us, and not desire that his name may be glorified, and that every thought may be subjected to his holy will? When the Apostle says, “To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever;” who is not ready to exclaim with ardent affection, “Amen, and amen?”
O brethren, let such views occupy our attention, and such prayers and praises be ever ascending from the altar of our hearts!]
This subject may be of use,
[How far are the generality of professing Christians from such exalted views of God, or such deep concern for the welfare of men’s souls! If they think of God in the quality of a Governor and Judge, they are not conscious of any defect, though they scarce ever raise their minds to him as their adorable Benefactor: and, if they occasionally promote the comfort of men’s bodies, they seem to themselves excused for not attending to their souls. But, beloved, let us not be contented to live in so low a region, or to exercise so little grace: but let our love to God and man bear some affinity and proportion to the love that God has shewn to us.]
[What is there that we may not expect at the hands of such a God? We may go to him for ourselves; we may go to him for others: we may ask of him all manner of grace: the weakest may obtain strength; and the most wavering may obtain establishment in the divine life. Let us know the privilege of prayer. Let us, especially under our afflictions, betake ourselves to a throne of grace: and if, while we are praying to him, our trials increase [Note: This was the case with the Israelites, Exo_5:5-19. with 12:33.], let us not be discouraged: only let us tarry his leisure; and our sorrows shall ere long be turned to joy, and our prayers to praise [Note: Eph_3:20.].]