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brother, which precede the word Paul, chap. iii. 15.-And with respect to the words, which this writer says he heard coming from the excellent glory, when he was with Jesus on the holy mount, chap. i. 16. Grotius affirms, "that if some more ancient MSS. "could be found, it might thence appear, that these words were "added in this place, as other words in other places, by those "who were willing to have this pass for an epistle of Peter." But I reply: That if the texts of ancient books are to be altered, at the pleasure of every rash critic, for the sake of supporting some groundless conceit, there will be no such thing as the genuine text of any ancient book whatever. Wherefore, if liberties of this kind are not to be taken with prophane authors, far less are they to be allowed in settling the text of the books of scripture, whose authority depends on our having, not the conjectural emendations of fanciful critics, but the very words of the inspired authors themselves.-With respect to the insinuation, that the author of this epistle wrote the first also, contained in the expression, This second epistle, beloved I now write to you, chap. iii. 1. Grotius says, that the two preceding chapters are the first epistle, and that the second epistle begins with the words, This second epistle, &c. But, as in no ancient MS. or version of this epistle, it is so divided, and as no author ancient or modern hath spoken of its having been at any time so divided, Grotius's opinion merits no regard.
III. With respect to the objection against the authenticity of the second epistle of Peter, taken from its style being different from the style of the first, it is to be observed, that in the opinion of many learned men this diversity is found, only in the second chapter of the second epistle; the style of the first and third chapters, being pretty much a-kin to the style of the first epistle. Wherefore, if the first and second epistles of Peter, are thought to have been written by different authors, because the style of the second epistle differs in one chapter from that of the first, we must think that the second epistle itself was written by two different authors, because the style of its first and third chapters, differs from that of the second. Yet no such conclusion ought to be drawn in either case; as it is well known that an author's style is regulated by the subjects of which he treats. If these are grand and interesting, they naturally sug gest animated and sublime expressions; such as those in the first and third chapters of the second epistle, in whch Peter describes the transfiguration of his master, with the august
cumstances which attended it: also the creation of the world, its past demolition by water, and its future destruction by fire.— On the other hand, if the subjects treated of, raise an author's indignation and abhorrence, he will use an acrimony of style, expressive of these feelings. Of this kind is the style of the second chapter of the second epistle. For the apostle, whose love to his master was great, and who had the feeding of Christ's sheep committed to him, regarding the false teachers as the most flagitious of men, wrote that chapter against them, with a bitterness, which he would not have used in correcting teachers who had erred through simplicity. Moreover in describing the character, and in foretelling the miserable end of these impostors, he adopted the bold figures and lofty expressions peculiar to the eastern writers, as even coming short of what might with truth be said concerning them.-Wherefore, since the diversity of style in the two epistles of Peter, can be so well accounted for, even on supposition that they were written by the same author, there is no reason to fancy with Grotius, that the second epistle was written by Symeon bishop of Jerusalem or with Jerome, that Peter made use of different interpreters for the purpose of turning his Syriac epistle into Greek; or with Bishop Sherlock to suppose, that Peter in his second epistle, and Jude in his epistle, copied some ancient Jewish writer, who described the false teachers of their own times, and denounced the judgments of God against them,
Of the Time when the Second Epistle of Peter was written.
When Peter wrote his second epistle, he was old, and near his end: Chap. i. 14. Knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is soon to happen, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shered me. Besides, chap. iii, 16. he speaks as if he had then seen all Paul's epistles. As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, hath written to you, 16 as indeed in all his epistles, &c. If Peter had seen all Paul's epistles when he wrote this letter, it is probable that Paul was then dead. Nay it is thought that Paul was dead when Peter wrote his first letter; at least if he wrote it from Rome, as most of the ancient Christian writers testify, (See 1 Pet. Pref. Sect. v.) The reason is, when Paul wrote his second to Timothy from Rome, a short while before his martyrdom, though he mentioned many
who were then with him, he spake nothing in that letter of Peter; an omission, which, if Peter had been in Rome at that time, could not well have happened. Wherefore if Peter wrote his first epistle from Rome, he must have done it after Paul's death; consequently not sooner than the end of the year 66, or the beginning of the year 67, about three years before the destruction of Jerusalem. For Paul was put to death in the twelfth year of Nero, answering to A. D. 66,
With respect to the second epistle, which, as we have seen, was composed a little before Peter's death, it seems to have been written from Rome likewise, not long after the first. For as Lardner, Can. iii. p. 253. observes, "It is not unlikely, that soon "after the apostle had sent away Silvanus with the first epistle, (6 some came from those countries to Rome, where there was a "frequent and general resort from all parts, bringing him an "account of the state of religion among them, which induced "Peter to write a second epistle, for the establishment of the "Christians, among whom he had laboured: and he might well "hope, that his last words and dying testimony, to the doctrines "which he had received from Christ, and had taught for many "years with unshaken stedfastness, would be of great weight "with them." Indeed he seems to make that circumstance, his apology for writing a second letter to them, so soon after the first. See chap. i. 15. iii. 1.—If the second epistle of Peter was written not long after the first, we may date it in the year 67, or 68, while the persecution against the Christians raged at Rome, and when Peter had an immediate prospect of suffering martyrdom, as the Lord Jesus Christ had shewn him.
It was mentioned, No. 2. that Grotius supposed this epistle was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. But if his opi nion be true, it will dostroy the authenticity of the epistle, as an inspired writing, seeing the only ground on which he rests his opinion is chap. iii. 12. where he says the writer speaks of the end of the world as then at hand. Expecting, and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens being set on fire shall be dissolved, &c. For as, according to him, it was a common opinion in the first age, that the end of the world was to succeed the destruction of Jerusalem, he supposed the writer of this epistle could not exhort the Christians to expect and earnestly desire the coming of the day of the Lord, &c. unJess Jerusalem had been then destroyed. But an exhortation of
this sort, is no proof that the writer, whoever he was, thought the end of the world was then at hand. He knew the contrary, as is plain from chap. iii. 3. where he expressly foretels, that scoffers will come in the last days; saying where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, &c. In the last days the scoffers on account of Christ's long delaying to come would ridicule his promises, and his disciples' expectation of that grand event. It being thus evident, that the writer of this epistle did not think the end of the world was then at hand, (see 2 Thess. Pref. sect. 3.) his exhortation to expect, and earnestly desire, the coming of the day of the Lord, does not imply that the day of the Lord's coming to destroy the world was then at hand, but that being kept hidden from all mankind, and absolute, lyuncertain, believers ought always to be prepared for it. And as at that day the living are to be changed and the dead to be loosed from the bands of death, and the whole crowned as victors, it ever was, and till it happen, ever will be, the object both of their earnest desire, and of their firm hope. Grotius's argument, therefore, to prove that this epistle was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, taken from chap. iii. 12. being a misrepresentation of that text founded on a false fact, is not of the least value.
Of the Persons to whom the Second Epistle of Peter was written.
In the preface to 1 Peter, sect. 3. we have shewn, that that epistle was written to the whole of the brethren, whether of Gentile or Jewish extraction, who were dispersed in the widely extended countries of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Wherefore they were the brethren to whom St. Peter directed this his second epistle, 2 Pet. iii. 1. And as the matters which it contains, were admirably calculated for confirming them in the faith of the gospel, and for comforting them under the persecution to which they were exposed for their religion, it must have been of great use to all the brethren in these countries to have them in writing from an inspired apostle; and the epistle which contained them, could not fail to be exceedingly valued by them, especially as it is written in an higher strain than common both of discovery and of language; (see sect. v.) written also in the prospect of his soon dying a martyr for the truths, which he had all along taught during the course of a long life.
Of the Occasion on which the Second Epistle of Peter was written. For this see the quotation from Lardner, sect. 2. penult paragr. See also the preface to James, sect. 4. and the Illustrations prefixed to chapters i. and ii. of this epistle.
Of the Matters contained in the Second Epistle of Peter.
The Spirit, who revealed to Peter, that false teachers and corrupt doctrine, would greately disturb the peace and purity of the church in after times, directed him to publish these discoveries in a second epistle to the brethren of Pontus, &c. and to accompany them with the plainest and most express declarations of the chief doctrines and precepts of the gospel; and to assert the high character, the power, and the coming of Jesus the author of the gospel; that at whatever time these false teachers appeared, and this epistle was read, the faithful might discern the impiety of their tenets, by comparing them with the true doctrines of the gospel set forth in this epistle, and stedfastly resist them.
In speaking of the matters contained in the second epistle of Peter, I must not omit observing, that in it, as in the first epistle, there are discoveries of some important facts and circumstances, not mentioned at all, or not mentioned so plainly, by the other inspired writers. Such as, 1. That our Lord was transfigured for the purpose of exhibiting, not only a proof of his greatness and power as the Son of God and Judge of the world, but an example of the glory in which he will come to judgment: An example also, of his power to transform our corruptible mortal bodies, at the resurrection, into the likeness of his own glorious body, as it appeared in his transfiguration.-2. That the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire, was intended to be an example of that destruction by fire from the presence of the Lord, which will be inflicted on the wicked, after the judgment. Compare Jude ver. 7.—3. That in the last age of the world, scoffers will arise, who from the stability of the present mundane system, will argue that the world hath existed as we see it, from eternity, and that it will continue for ever.-4. That after the judgment, this earth with its atmosphere shall be set