« AnteriorContinuar »
light streaming upon the lands on the other side, this truth shows us the Divine
power which made the worlds standing by our side and waiting to be our helper. It shows us how by faith and prayer we may draw it to ourselves, draw it into our very hearts, make it our own, and with it beat these moun
tains to dust, sweeping them out of our way, and going forth into the laughing sunshine all the stronger for the strength we had spent. “ There
is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.” To expend this kind of power in this
way is most surely to augment it. To lay out God-given strength in subduing our sins and doing the duties that are nearest, is to hoard in strength, and to lay it up securely in our souls with the light of a clearer wisdom and the fire of a holier courage in it for the next conflict. Take heart, my brother! If thy temptations are greater than thy forefathers', thou shalt have greater strength than they from thy God. “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days thy strength shall be."
In an age like this, when it is so difficult to snatch leisure from the overcrowding of business and other occupations, we should learn to use well such leisure as we have. The quiet home and the quiet Sunday are invested with a greater value than heretofore, by the greater activity and restlessness surging around them in this generation. They seem to me to be set over against the characteristic temptations of our time. Standing apart from the fierce rush of business and pleasure, like
Divinely built sanctuaries, they invite those who have been buffeted and worn down in the great world without, to enter into them to Feat awhile, and in quietness to renew their strength. Let business men value them. Keep your love of father and mother, and brother and sister, and kin, pure and strong within you. Never allow your love of the little child to lose any of its freshness or beauty. In an after day of temptation, out there in the great world, those beautiful home loves, though counting for nothing on the kdger
, may be the guardian angels standing between you and some deadly sin. Look forward to the Sunday as a day for laying hold upon God's strength. Remember the Sunday and its ministers in your week-day prayers, and the Sunday will help
you in your week-day toils and conflicts. Drink into the spirit of the Bible. Go forth into the world with a pure heurt, keeping in the straight pths of duty, and you are as safe, and in your measure as much with God, when contact with those crowds of sinful men, as Aaron when alone in the Holy of Holies
, or John in the Isle of Patmos. “To the pure all things are pure ;” and because thus pure-safe.
PETER'S DENIAL OF CHRIST.
BY THE REV. J. P. BARNETT.
stitutional enthusiasm rushed into extrayagant developments, and became a dangerous infirmity; which, however, even at the worst, was but the infirmity of a great and noble soul, with an eagerness which forbade steady thought and calm self-examination, as its most serious vice. He was intensely hone:t in his ardour ; but that ardour was not invariably regulated by the sobrieties of an enlightened judgment, and was therefore sometimes open to influences by which it might be too readily perverted.
It is necessary to bear these considera: tions in mind in judging of the flagranı sin
which Peter committed when he profanely Jesus had said, “ As the living Father and violently denied his Lord.
hath sent me, and I live by the Father, 80 He fell into this great sin in the face of he that eateth me shall live by me.” Peter repeated warnings. Let the chief of these
was prompt in responding to this as well be noted.
as to the former. "We believe and are On one occasion Jesus held a long con- sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of versation in the synagogue at Capernaum the living God.” He had before avowed with the spectators of his miracle of the his faith in Christ's words as the medium feeding of the five thousand, who had fol. of the spiritual life: he now arows bis lowed bim thither, "not because they gaw faith in Christ himself as the source and the miracle, but because they did eat of the substance of that life. loaves and were filled." In this conversa- The question, “Will ye also go away?" tion Jesus proclaimed himself as “the living was intended to test the fidelity of the disbread which came down from heaven.” ciples. Many unworthy ones were gone: This teaching was too spiritual for the would those who remained prove similarly taste of those to whom it was addressed, unworthy ? The ready repudiation volun, and “ many of them went back, and walked teered by Peter was immediately followed no more with him." How natural that
by the application of the test in a more Jesus, under such circumstances, should pointed form: “Have I not chosen you turn to the twelve, saying, “Will ye also twelve, and one of you is a devil ?”. Aby go away?' They had been with him from little did Peter imagine, when he go the first; they had witnessed his miracles ; promptly assumed the responsibility of rethey had listened to his discourses ; they presenting his brethren in this noble con. had borne his reproofs ; they had accepted fession, that there were two of those brethren his leadership; ; they had endorsed his of whom those words ought to have been teachings; they had shared his perils and spoken more cautiously, and that he himself privations-would they now follow the was one of the two! Little did he think example of the rest, cease to be his dis. that one of them would go down to the ciples, throw up their apostleship, turn a lowermost depths of meanness, and betray deaf ear to his instructions, and abandon his Master with a kiss into the hands of all the high spiritual benefits which their his enemies for thirty pieces of silver! continued union with him could not fail to And little did he think that there was secure to them? “Will ye also go away?" another, and that other even himself, who,
The question, though lovingly and pathe- when the cause of Christ should come to tically spoken, was a searching one. One look like a failing cause, would, from the man, however, among the twelve was ready sheer predominance of terror, disavow all with a reply both for himself and his knowledge of, and all connection with, the brethren. That man was Peter. “Lord, glorious Victim, and deal out oaths and to whom shall we go? thou hast the curses to make the people the more readily words of eternal life. And we believe and believe him! Yet so it was! There is no are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son snare more subtle and more fatal than preof the living God.” What other reply was sumption. You who are nearest to Christ; possible? Had they not by this time been you who know him best and love him trained to "a higher life"? Had they not most; you who are most prompt and ardent gone too far to recede? They could not in his service; you who are ready, as you return to John the Baptist, for he had fondly imagine, to leave all, to brave all
, already fallen a victim to the cruelty and and to bear all, that you may show your the cowardice of Herod, and would certainly, selves to be his to the lasty--remember that had he been living, have sent them back to you must distrust your own hearts, and Christ. As to committing themselves again evermore rest in Him who alone can make to their old Rabbis, the very thought of your life that which, in your best and hapsuch a fate was unendurable. Besides, piest moments, you wish it to be. You why should they wish to go away? “Thou cannot tell what there is in your nature to hast the words of eternal life." Yes, they which the temptation to forsake Christ may subscribed to what he had just said : appeal. Warm as may be your zeal, if you 6. The words that I speak unto you, they are indulging in any self-confidence, the are spirit and they are life." The language time for demonstrating the folly of such which offended so many was the language indulgence may unexpectedly come, to the in which their hearts rejoiced. Yea, more. disgrace of your character and to the peril to Peter, he says,
of your soul. Judas did not accept the No: the man was the victim of a strange warning here so solemnly presented by infatuation; and, apparently as if he had Christ. Probably he thought himself the accepted the words which Christ had spoken last of the company to be described by the to keep him from despair as words meant words, "One of you hath a devil.” Peter to buoy him up in his own strength, he did not accept it; for he was as self-suffi- exclaimed, “Lord, I am ready to go with cient afterwards as before. “Let him that thee, both into prison and to death." Poor thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Peter! he did not know his own heart,
And now a year or more has passed. and it was only by stern and terrible expeCircumstances are closing in upon the riences that he could be taught to know it. Master. His enemies are thirsting for his Those experiences were at hand; and the blood. To the disciples everything wears secret was at length frankly disclosed to an aspect of gloom. There is a feeling of him. "I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall uneasiness among them, for the final not crow this day, before that thou shalt tragedy is approaching. Jesus enters into thrice deny that thou knowest me.” If a house with his friends to eat the pass- Peter received this intimation with incre. orer. He tells them that it is the last dulous surprise, let us not blame him; time. He converts the feast into an occa- knowing, as we do, that men are far more sion for instituting an ordinance which apt to deceive themselves than to be deslaall help to fix him perpetually in their ceived by others, and that none of us would remembrance. He talks to them tenderly
be less incredulous than he if we were told and graciously. At length he once more how much of depravity tnore is in our addresses them in the voice of warning, hearts, and what fearful sins that depravity Speaking to all, but with special emphasis will absuredly lead us to commit, unless we
“Simon, Simon, behold are restrained and protected by Him wlio Satan hath desired to have you, that says, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for he
may sift you as wheat.” Jesus wished my strength is made perfect in weakness." Peter to be cognizant of his great weak- And now the crisis has arrived. Jesus ness, and gently to suggest that the very is led away to the high priest's house. His ardour and enthusiasm in which he was disciples have given way to the terror of priding himself, and which he had fed the hour, and most of them have fled. and Aattered into a frightful presump- John, however, is known to the high priest, tion, was the avenue through which the and goes in with Jesus. Peter has noí enomy would gain the surest and easiest this privilege ; but his heart is full of access to his soul. The testing-time anxiety, and he advances as near to what is was at hand; and in the tragedies which taking place as possible. He finds his way were about to take place, the man of a into the palace, and stands at the door of the temperament like his would be in danger of apartment where the examination is being losing his integrity, and of falling headlong conducted. What melancholy forebodings, into grievous sin. The warning was ad- what heavy griefs, must have weighed down ministered faithfully; yet not so as either his spirit at that moment! Through o irritate or to dishearten. “Satan hath John's interposition he is at last admitted. desired” this. The language was calculated To go in must have demanded great cou. to remind the poor disciple that Jesus was rage; for not only had he to incur the
preserver, to make him forget himself, malignant contempt which the enemies of and to turn his heart to a full trust in his Jesus felt for all his disciplos, but he Lord. “I have prayed for thee, that thy would be the object of a special hatred by faith fail not: and when thou art converted, reason of the rash and foolish employstrengthen thy brethren." What more ment of the sword of which he had just emphatic intimation could he receive of his before been guilty. To enter into that real, as opposed to his false, security ? judgment-hall was to be noticed, to be
What was the effect ? Surely Peter is singled out, to be questioned, to be taunted, how a humbled, though by no means a to become a target for deadly jokes and desponding man! Surely his presumption gibes. It was virtually to share the viruhas all melted away beneath the warmth of lent persecution which Jesus himself was this gentle and generous warning! Surely suffering. But he went. How could he the man will fall at the feet of his Master, do otherwise--the man whose love was 80 and cry, “Without thee I can do nothing ardent, and whose professions had been so Toid thou me up, and I shall be safe !" high? His heart would not let him remain
away. He wanted to be there, to see all, We should be too likely to forsake him in to hear all, and to be ready with his testi- the hour of his trial. Were the crisis to mony should that be needed. He went; come to us as it came to Peter, I am and there was the spectacle! his Master afraid that some of us would be no firmer in the hands of his enemies clamouring for than he. We might not curse and swear, his blood! That was the trying moment ! for that is nowadays a sin against good Peter's courage gave way: he saw nothing breeding, a fact which would weigh against but failure, defeat, ignominy! What good it with many much more seriously than can be done now ? It is a hopeless case ! the fact that it is a sin against God. But The feeling of despair overmasters every should we all be too honest and too faithful other feeling in his soul. He is chal- to say in effect, “I know not the man"? lenged : “ Art not thou also one of this Let us not imagine that because we deny i man's disciples ?” “I am not !” Doleful the Lord in a less boisterous and ostenwords! The die is cast. He is now com- tatious way than Peter did, we therefore mitted to falsehood; and, as always 80 grieve him less, or less dishonour ourselves. again, one lie necessitates another.
The temptations in our case to swerve are not thou one of his disciples ?” “Man, I feeble in the extreme as compared with those am not!” “ Surely thou art one of them. which swept with such desolating fury over Did I not see thee in the garden with him ? his soul. Besides, thou art a Galilean: thy speech be- “He went out, and wept bitterly." trayeth thee.” But he began to curse and solitude, and the tears which graced it, did to swear, saying, "I know not the man ”! him good. In it his spirit underwent the Who could have believed it? This was the chastening which it needed. How exhiladisciple who could dare so much and en- rating it is to see him once more strong dure so much; his faith and courage shat- enough to meet, his brethren, to stand tered in a moment, and his soul wrought beneath the cross, to go to his Master's up to a very paroxysm of profanity and grave, and to take his place in the new falsehood!
economy a wiser and truer man, well The cock crew; and “the Lord turned, fitted now for the apostleship with all its and looked upon Peter. And Peter re- toils and dangers ! How pleasant to hear membered the word the Lord, how he him, after the resurrection, when asked for had said unto him, Before the cock the third time, “Simon, son of Jonas, crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And lovest thou me?" answer for the third Peter went out, and wept bitterly." time, “Lord, thou knowest all things;
Let us not reproach this man. He did thou knowest that I love thee"! How a foul wrong ; but he showed a beautiful gladdening to think of him as going on penitence, and proved that he had a noble with his glorious work, a true and mighty heart underneath those strong passions preacher of the good news of God to the which were so often his bane. Jesus did world, undeterred by peril, firm in persenot reproach him. That look was not a cution, and consenting finally to follow his look of anger: it was rather a look of love, Master through the ignominy and agony of which gushed forth upon his soul, and re- the cross. stored its balance; a look which said, Whatever superiority Peter had as a “ Poor Peter!”
Christian and as an apostle was drawn “When thy deathly need is obdurest,
from Christ. In a true humility and an Thou shalt not be denied, as I am here. honourable gratitude, he might have looked My voice
to God and angels shall attest, up to the throne of the ascended Redeemer Because I know this man, let him be clear."
from the cross on which he died, and Let us not reproach him, especially as said, “Thy gentleness, O my Master, hath perhaps we often perpetrate a similar sin in made me great!" Jesus in his glory is as essence, without thinking that we gentle as he was in his humiliation. Do sinning at all, and therefore without you think of him as dwelling in heaven in repenting. We live in false times. We a stiff, stately authority ? No! he does are willing to follow Jesus as long and as not forget the troubled, struggling world far as it is respectable to do so; but I fear whose soil he once trod, whose air he once that many among us would decline to breathed, and whose sorrows he once follow him to the high priest's house, carried in his capacious heart! Let the to the bar of Pilate, to the cross, through gentleness of Jesus make us great also. evil report as well as through good report. Let us keep near to him, so that we may
catch the sweetness of his eye, the music of his voice, the zephyrs of his love, the inspirations of his grace. For then shall
we know the blessedness of those who “ follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
BY THE LATE REV. JAMES SMITH. Great men and good men have always been tried men ; and generally the greater the grace, and the more elevated the station, the greater the trial. We sometimes overlook this when we long to be exalted and employed in public. Little men make much and talk much of little trials ; but great men, very gracious men, suffer in silence, and hide their sorrows from others. How much we read of the trials of the Lord's people in his word, the tests they were put to, the crosses they
had to carry, the faith they exercised, the courage they displayed, and the patience they manifested. Yow honourably Paul speaks of Abraham : “ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac : and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Heb. xi. 17, 18).
“ God did tempt Abraham,” we read. To tempt here is to try, to examine, to prove if genuine, if strong. The nature of some things has to be proved, and the strength of others, because there
are counterfeits. There is counterfeit grace, and weak grace. God, therefore, tries grace, and proves it to be genuine ; he tries it also that we may know its strength. God had promised
a son : he had waited long, he had received the son promised, and that son was the joy of his heart and the sunshine of his house. He was now near to manhood, a fine, healthy, lovely lad, enthroned in his mother's heart, and the stay of his father's old age. God now requires that son to be given up, to be given up in sacrifice, to be sacrificed by his father's own hand. Think of sacrificing
a son, an only son, a son such as Isaac was! Yet) Abraham was required to take him from his home, travel with him three days, and at the end of that time offer him in sacrifice on the top of the mountain pointed out. This was a trial, and the command seems to have come upon him suddenly, and when it was not at all expected; perhaps just after the father and son had been enjoying each other's company and conversation in a particular way. How mysterious often are the ways of God! How frequently the command is given, or the sacrifice required, without any reason being assigned. Abraham was thus tried. Now observe
HIS HONOURABLE CONDUCT. “ He offered up Isaac.” He offered him up as required. He offered him up where he was directed. He offered him up
withont questioning, or asking the reason why; without interceding that his Isaac might be spared ; without praying to be spared the trial. He seems to have obeyed the command readily, without hesitation or delay; calmly, without excitement or confusion ; religiously, from a right motive, and that God might be glorified ; consistently, with his profession, character, and high standing
as the friend of God. How much depends on the spirit in which we present our sacrifices ! How frequently all is spoiled by the motive from which, or the manner in which, we present our offerings to God! How much more ready are we to receive from God than we are to return anything to God! We laugh when he gives us our Isaacs, but we weep when he requires us to return them to him; whereas we should be as willing to surrender as to receive. Notice nowTHE PRINCIPLE OF ACTION. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered