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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 3 - Verse 12

Verse 12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous. That is, he is their Protector. His eyes are indeed on all men, but the language here is that which describes continual guardianship and care.

And his ears are open unto their prayers. He hears their prayers. As he is a hearer of prayer, they are at liberty to go to him at all times, and to pour out their desires before him. This passage is taken from Ps 34:15, and it is designed to show the reason why a life of piety will contribute to length of days.

But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. Marg., upon. The sense of the passage, however, is against. The Lord sets his face against them: an expression denoting disapprobation, and a determination to punish them. His face is not mild and benignant towards them, as-it is towards the righteous. The general sentiment in these verses (1 Pe 3:10-12) is, that while length of days is desirable, it is to be secured by virtue and religion, or that virtue and religion will contribute to it. This is not to be understood as affirming that all who are righteous will enjoy long life, for we know that the righteous are often cut down in the midst of their way; and that in, fire, and flood, and war, and the pestilence, the righteous and the wicked often perish together. But still there is a sense in which it is true that a life of virtue and religion will contribute to length of days, and that the law is so general as to be a basis of @calculation in reference to the future.

I. Religion and virtue contribute to those things which are favourable to length of days, which are conducive to health and to a vigorous constitution. Among those things are the following,

(a.) a calm, peaceful, and contented mind—avoiding the wear and tear of the raging passions of lusts, avarice, and ambition;

(b.) temperance in eating and drinking—always favourable to length of days;

(c.) industry— ne of the essential means, as a general rule, of promoting long life;

(d.) prudence and economy—avoiding the extravagances by which many shorten their days; and

(e.) a conscientious and careful regard of life itself. Religion makes men feel that life is a blessing, and that it should not be thrown away. Just in proportion as a man is under the influence of religion, does he regard life as of importance, and does he become careful in preserving it. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, the want of religion often makes men reckless of life, and ready to throw it away for any trifling cause. Religion shows a man what great issues depend on life, and makes him, therefore, desirous of living to secure his own salvation and the salvation of all others.

II. Multitudes lose their lives who would have preserved them ff they had been under the influence of religion. To see this, we have only to reflect

(a.) on the millions who are cut off in war as the result of ambition, and the want of religion;

(b.) on the countless hosts cut down in middle life, or in youth, by intemperance, who would have been saved by religion;

(c.) on the numbers who are the victims of raging passions, and who are cut off by the diseases which gluttony and licentiousness engender;

(d.) on the multitude who fall in duels, all of whom would have been saved by religion;

(e.) on the numbers who, as the result of disappointment in business or in love, close their own lives, who would have been enabled to bear up under their troubles if they had had religion; and

(f.) on the numbers who are cut off from the earth as the punishment of their crimes, all of whom would have continued to live if they had had true religion.

III. God protects the righteous. He does it by saving them from those vices by which the lives of so many are shortened; and often, we have no reason to doubt, in answer to their prayers, when, but for those prayers, they would have fallen into crimes that would have consigned them to an early grave, or encountered dangers from which they would have had no means of escape. No one can doubt that in fact those who are truly religious are saved from the sins which consign millions to the tomb; nor is there any less reason to doubt that a protecting shield is often thrown before the children of God when in danger. Comp. Ps 91.

{1} "against" "upon"

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