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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 2 - Verse 11
Verse 11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims. On the word rendered strangers, (paroikouv,) See Barnes "Eph 2:19, where it is rendered foreigners. It means, properly, one dwelling near, neighbouring; then a by-dweller, a sojourner, one without the rights of citizenship, as distinguished from a citizen; and it means here that Christians are not properly citizens of this world, but that their citizenship is in heaven, and that they are here mere sojourners. See Barnes "Php 3:20".
A pilgrim, properly, is one who travels to a distance from his own country to visit a holy place, or to pay his devotion to some holy object; then a traveller, a wanderer. The meaning here is, that Christians have no permanent home on earth; their citizenship is not here; they are mere sojourners, and they are passing on to their eternal home in the heavens. They should, therefore, act as become such persons; as sojourners and travellers do. They should not
(a.) regard the earth as their home.
(b.) They should not seek to acquire permanent possessions here, as if they were to remain here, but should act as travellers do, who merely seek a temporary lodging, without expecting permanently to reside in a place.
(c.) They should not allow any such attachments to be formed, or arrangements to be made, as to impede their journey to their final home, as pilgrims seek only a temporary lodging, and steadily pursue their journey.
(d.) Even while engaged here in the necessary callings of life—their studies, their farming, their merchandize—their thoughts and affections should be on other things. One in a strange land thinks much of his country and home; a pilgrim, much of the land to which he goes; and even while his time and attention may be necessarily occupied by the arrangements needful for the journey, his thoughts and affections will be far away.
(e.) We should not encumber ourselves with much of this world's goods. Many professed Christians get so many worldly things around them, that it is impossible for them to make a journey to heaven. They burden themselves as no traveller would, and they make no progress. A traveller takes along as few things as possible; and a staff is often all that a pilgrim has. We make the most rapid progress in our journey to our final home when we are least encumbered with the things of this world.
Abstain from freshly lusts. Such desires and passions as the carnal appetites prompt to. See Barnes "Ga 5:19, seq., a sojourner in a land, or a pilgrim, does not give himself up to the indulgence of sensual appetites, or to the soft pleasures of the soul. All these would hinder his progress, and turn him off from his great design. Comp. Ro 13:4, Ga 5:24; 2 Ti 2:22; Tit 2:12; 1 Pe 1:14.
The meaning is, that indulgence in these things makes war against the nobler faculties of the soul; against the conscience, the understanding, the memory, the judgment, the exercise of a pure imagination. Comp. Ga 5:17. There is not a faculty of the mind, however brilliant in itself, which will not be ultimately ruined by indulgence in the carnal propensities of our nature. The effect of intemperance on the noble faculties of the soul is well known; and alas, there are too many instances in which the light of genius, in those endowed with splendid gifts, at the bar, in the pulpit, and in the senate, is extinguished by it, to need a particular description. But there is one vice pre-eminently, which prevails all over the heathen world, (Comp. See Barnes "Ro 1:27, seq.) and extensively in Christian lands, which more than all others, blunts the moral sense, pollutes the memory, defiles the imagination, hardens the heart, and sends a withering influence through all the faculties of the soul.
"The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being,"
Of this passion, Burns beautifully and truly said-
"But oh ! it hardens a' within,
And petrifies the feeling."
From all these passions the Christian pilgrim is to abstain.
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