I. The importance and advantage of progress and perseverance in grace and holiness made the apostle to be very diligent in doing the work of a minister of Christ, that he might thereby excite and assist them to be diligent in the duty of Christians. If ministers be negligent in their work, it can hardly be expected that the people will be diligent in theirs; therefore Peter will not be negligent (that is, at no time or place, in no part of his work, to no part of his charge), but will be exemplarily and universally diligent, and that in the work of a remembrancer. This is the office of the best ministers, even the apostles themselves; they are the Lord’s remembrancers (Isa. 62:6); they are especially bound to make mention of the promises, and put God in mind of his engagements to do good to his people; and they are the people’s remembrancers, making mention of God’s precepts, and putting them in mind of the doctrines and duties of Christianity, that they may remember God’s commandments, to do them. And this the apostle does, though some persons might think it needless, inasmuch as they already knew those thing that he writes about, and were established in the very truth that he insists upon. Observe, 1. We need to be put in mind of what we already know to prevent our forgetting it, and to improve our knowledge, and reduce all to practice. 2. We must be established in the belief of the truth, that we may not be shaken by every wind of doctrine, and especially in that which is the present truth, the truth more peculiarly necessary for us to know in our day, that which belongs to our peace, and which is more especially opposed in our time. The great doctrines of the gospel, that Jesus is the Christ, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, that those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved, and all that believe in God must be careful to maintain good works—these are truths the apostles insisted on in their day; these are faithful sayings, and worthy of all acceptation in every age of the Christian church. And, as these must be constantly affirmed by ministers (Titus 3:8), so the people are to be well instructed and established therein, and yet must, after all their attainments in knowledge, be put in mind of such things as cannot be too clearly known nor too firmly believed. The most advanced Christians cannot, while in this world, be above ordinances, nor beyond the need of those means which God has appointed and does afford. And, if the people need teaching and exhortation while they are in the body, it is very meet and just that ministers should, as long as they are in this tabernacle, instruct and exhort them, and bring those truths to their remembrance that they have formerly heard, this being a proper means to stir them up to be diligent and lively in a course of gospel-obedience.
II. The apostle, being set upon the work, tells us (2 Pet. 1:14) what makes him earnest in this matter, even the knowledge he had, not only that he must certainly, but also that he must shortly, put off this tabernacle. Observe, 1. The body is but the tabernacle of the soul. It is a mean and movable structure, whose stakes can be easily removed, and its cords presently broken. 2. This tabernacle must be put off. We are not to continue long in this earthly house. As at night we put off our clothes, and lay them by, so at death we must put off our bodies, and they musts be laid up in the grave till the morning of the resurrection. 3. The nearness of death makes the apostle diligent in the business of life. Our Lord Jesus had shown him that the time of his departure was at hand, and therefore he bestirs himself with greater zeal and diligence, because the time is short. He must soon be removed from those to whom he wrote; and his ambition being that they should remember the doctrine he had delivered to them, after he himself was taken away from them, he commits his exhortation to writing. The apostle had not any great opinion of oral tradition. This was not so proper a means to reach the end he was in pursuit of. He would have them always to remember these things, and not only to keep them in mind, but also to make mention of them, as the original words import. Those who fear the Lord make mention of his name, and talk of his loving-kindness. This is the way to spread the knowledge of the Lord and this the apostle had at heart: and those who have the written word of God are thereby put into a capacity to do this.
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