[ocr errors][ocr errors]

mises—but he recovers, and his devotion de- , in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgparts with the danger and the disease. He ments, and do them.” If such prayers and is poor and afflicted ; and he worships God in promises are to be accomplished, we must his family, and he loves to attend the preach- look after something in ourselves and, as the ing of the word of life ;-he succeeds in busi- apostle enjoins, examine not Christ, but ourness, and becomes rich and worldly—and has selves, to know whether we are in the faith." no time for the one, or relish for the other. III. ITS ACTIVITY. “The water that I

The religion of the second consists in ex- shall give him shall be in him a well of water ternal performances. They do a thousand springing up.” Observe the representations things; but the heart is not in them. They given us of real Christians; mark the design would gladly give up the whole of their irk- of the Gospel; take any of the graces of the some task if they could do it with safety. Holy Spirit, or the images of Divine influObedience is not enjoyed as their meat, but ence: all, all of them will convince you, that taken as their medicine. All their care is to genuine religion is something more than no make clean the outside of the cup and of the tion; that it does not consist in a dormant platter: they have no concern about inward creed, or a dead confidence; but is a principurity; no struggles with innate depravity ; ple, full of life, of energy, and of influence. no anxiety to have the heart right in the How are real Christians represented !--As sight of God. But we know who has said, those whose strength is to sit still !-No: but “ He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; they are held forth by those whose profession neither is that circumcision, which is outward calls for the most strenuous exertion—they in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one are husbandmen; they are reapers; they are inwardly; and circumcision is that of the warriors; they are racers. heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; What is the design of the Gospel? These whose praise is not of men, but of God.” are the words of an infallible Judge: “The

The religion of the third is found in their grace of God that bringeth salvation hath ap connexions. They never examine or judge peared to all men, teaching us, that, denying for themselves; but leave their ministers to ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live think for them. Their own knees never bend soberly, righteously, and godly, in this prebefore God; but they desire the prayers of sent world; looking for that blessed hope, and others. They take shelter under the wing the glorious appearing of the great God and of godly parents, like the Jews, who thought our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself they could not be destroyed because “ they for us, that he might redeem us from all had Abraham to their father:" yet we read iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar of one in hell, who said, " Father, Abraham!” people, zealous of good works." Religion is a personal thing; and we can no How are the graces of the Holy Spirit demore be saved by the piety of another than scribed ? What is faith? Is it a conviction we can be nourished or refreshed by another's that rests in the judgment? It overcomes sleeping or eating.

the world; it purifies the heart “With the The religion of the fourth is ALL IN CHRIST. heart man believeth unto righteousness." These ridicule the very notion of a work of What is love? We read of the labour of grace in us: to look after any thing in our love. What is hope? We read of a lively selves, though not self-derived, is legal and hope: "we are saved by hope.” What is pharisaical. They have all in Christ—and repentance ? “ Behold this selfsame thing, so have we; but with this difference-we that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what have all in him so as to seek all from him. carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what We believe that when he died all was finish- clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, ed for us—and we are now praying that all yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, may be finished in us. It is a glorious truth yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!" that in him we have sanctification as well as All the images of Divine influence imply righteousness: but he cannot be our sanctifi- the same thing. Sometimes it is compared cation by suffering us to remain in sin—he is to leaven, which operates in the meal till the our sanctification, not by being a substitute whole mass be leavened. Sometimes it is for our sanctification, but by sanctifying us. compared to fire, which penetrates and conWo to the man who pleads for a religion, of sumes every thing combustible within its which even Christ is the author, but of which reach. Sometimes it is likened to the force he himself is not the subject! David prays, of vegetation; the seed sown is quickened “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and and springs up, first the blade, then the ear, renew a right spirit within me.” And the and after that the full corn in the ear. promise of the new covenant runs; “ A new No wonder, therefore, it is here expressed, heart also will I give you, and a new spirit not by a pool; not by dead, but living water will I put within you, and I will take away the water of a bursting spring: the water the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will that I shall give him shall be in him "a well give you an heart of flesh. And I will put of water springing up"-into what ? " into my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk everlasting life."

[ocr errors]

IV. We have to observe-ITS TENDENCY. shall be revealed in us. If a transient visit It weans us from the world, and constrains be so delightful, what will the constant vision us to set our affections on things above. It be! If it be so satisfactory to behold through elevates our thoughts, our desires, and our a glass darkly, what will it be when we shall pursuits, in a manner inconceivable to the see face to face! Ah! says the Christian, groveling sons of time and sense; and ena- grateful yet still aspiring, "In thy presence, bles us, even while our bodies are below, to there is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand live with our conversation in heaven. there are pleasures for evermore. I will be

The difference between grace and glory is hold thy face in righteousness: I shall be sanot so great as some may imagine. They tisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”differ only in degree. The state is the same; And such is the assured blessedness of the the nature is the same. Grace is glory in Christian; for the tendency of this Divine the bud, and glory is grace in the flower. principle is not liable to frustration.

It canThe one is the child, the other the man : the not issue in hell. Grace is nothing, unless it one the dawn, the other the day. For what conquers, as well as fights. But, is heaven? Is it a condition, in which all

“Grace will complete what grace begins, worldly distinctions will be done away, and To save from sorrows, or from sins." only those remain which resulted from cha- They that believe on Christ, are said to beracter? The Christian is rising towards it lieve on him “to life everlasting." You have

“In his eyes a vile person is con- often heard how to distinguish between false temned, but he honoureth them that fear the grace, and true: but of this you may rest asLord.” Is it a condition in which all the sured that what is Divine will be durable; differences which now divide the religious what comes from heaven will lead to it. world will be abolished; in which no inquiry “ We are made partakers of Christ, if we will be made where we worshipped, but only hold the beginning of our confidence steadhow ? He is tending to it now: “Grace be fast unto the end.” “The water that I shall with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ give him shall be in him a well of water in sincerity. Whosoever shall do the will of springing up into everlasting life.” my Father which is in heaven, the same is We may say reversely the same of sin. my mother and sister and brother.” Does it There is a connexion between sin and hell. consist in perpetual blessing and praise ? He They only differ in degree. In the present is entering it now. “I will bless the Lord at experience of the wicked, hell is not only all times, his praise shall continually be in insured, but begun. He is miserable already my mouth.” Are the glorified happy in being in the strife between his convictions and his inever with the Lord ? He now cries, “O that clinations; in the reproaches of his conscience; I knew where I might find him!” As the in the tyranny of his passions; in the contempt hart panteth after the water-brooks, so pant of the wise and good; in the vexations of life; eth my soul after thee, O God. My soul in the fears of death. What he now suffers thirsteth for God, for the living God: when is sufficient to prove a tendency in sin to proshall I come and appear before God ?" duce misery: and the only reason why he is

A Christian, therefore, has something of not completely miserable at present, is, beheaven now: he has it in its source; in its ele- cause he has now the advantage of diversions; ments; in its earnests; in its foretastes. Is because he lives in a mixed state of things; he in the temple? He is “made joyful in because he is under a dispensation of forbearGod's house of prayer:" he sees his power ance and mercy—but all these preventions and glory in the sanctuary.” Is he alone? I will soon give way, and the perfect result of “ My soul,” says he, “shall be satisfied as sin will be-read it in the Scripture, and with marrow and fatness; and my mouth tremble. shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I re- May God deliver you from a course, the member thee upon my bed, and meditate on way of which is hard, and the end of which thee in the night watches.” Is he in tribu- is death : “ that being made free from sin, and lation? He can “glory in tribulation also, become servants unto God, you may have knowing that tribulation worketh patience, your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlastand patience experience, and experience ing life.” hope: for as the sufferings of Christ abound in him, his consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” Yes: “We speak that we do know,

DISCOURSE XC. and testify that we have seen: and that which we have heard and seen declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship

PETER'S CURIOSITY AND PREwith us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.”

SUMPTION. And yet all we possess, all we enjoy, all Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest we experience, all we know, here, is not thou? Jesus answered him, Whither 1 go, worthy to be compared with the glory that thou canst not follow me now; but thou 2 T



shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said know not how entirely to censure. It has * unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee been said, that the very imperfections of good

I will lay down my life for thy sake. men are peculiar, and betray their excel. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy lences. Here we see Peter's love to his life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say Lord, and concern for his presence. It is unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou always trying to part with a dear relation or hast denied me tl.rice.—John xüi. 36–38.

friend. Rachel weeps for her children, and No kind of writing is so entertaining, in- refuses to be comforted, because they are not. structive, and useful, as biography; and for When Elijah was going to be taken up from this species of composition, there is no book the earth, we see how his disciple Elisha follike the Bible. We have, indeed, no coin lowed him from place to place, and would not plete lives given us; but we have sketches go back. When Jonathan and David were of character, remarkable for their discrimina- about to separate, they fell upon each other's tion and effect: we have no full-length and neck and wept, until each exceeded. When, finished portraits, but we have bold outlines at Miletus, " Paul kneeled down and prayed and touches, which instantly and powerfully with the brethren, they all wept sore, and recall the originals.

fell on his neck, and kissed him; sorrowing Here, also, we have no “faultless mon- most of all for the words which he spake, sters." When I am reading of a person, and that they should see his face no more." But the writer labours to represent him as per think of Christ! What a benefactor, what a fect, I feel more than dissatisfied: I am im- master was he! How had he endeared himposed upon : I have fable given me instead self to his Disciples—how essential must he of fact: I feel no moral sympathy with the have appeared to their happiness and welsubject, he does not belong to the order of fare? Could Peter then view his continuhumanity. In the Scriptures we have men ance with them, or removal, with indifferpourtrayed as they were: their defects, as ence? well as excellences, are placed before us; But if our Saviour blames Peter, Peter and we see what we have to shun, as well as was blameworthy; for He always judges to pursue.

righteous judgment. Peter was a little too Peter always appears in the sacred story, curious a fault

, I fear, by no means uncomlike himself.' The individuality of his cha- mon. For how many are there, who are racter is supported with wonderful propriety more anxious to know secret things, which and consistency. We always find him eager, belong unto God, than to improve the things forward, impetuous; always zealous, but his revealed, which are for us, and for our chilzeal not always according to knowledge; dren. How much attention has been emequally rash and affectionate; speaking first ployed in fruitless inquiries, concerning the and thinking afterward; bold in profession, Divine decrees, the downfall of antichrist, the but failing in execution—yet open to convic- future state of heathens, the place of judgtion, and deriving profit from his very fail- ment, the employments of the glorified state! ings. Observe the words which we have We are all fonder of speculation than pracread : “ Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, tice. Whereas, we ought to remember, that whither goest thou ? Jesus answered him, this is a world of action rather than science; Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; that things which principally concern us are but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter the most easily found; that in a state where said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee we have so much to do, and so little time to now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. do it in, we should secure ourselves as much Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock as possible from all superfluous engagements. shall not crow, till thou hast denied me How many diversions, alas! have we al thrice." These words consist of two parts. ready; necessary diversions by sleep; unaIn the first, our Saviour checks his CURI- voidable diversions by business; accidental Osity. In the second, he confounds his PRE- diversions by company and occurrences: and

shall we add to all these—trilling and needI. Simon Peter said unto him, “Lord, less diversions ? whither goest thou?" The question was oc- The Bible is not designed to indulge our casioned by what our Saviour had said in a curiosity, but to be the guide of our faith, former part of his discourse: “Little children, and the rule of our life: like the pillar given yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall to the Israelites; which was not intended seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whi- to amuse them as naturalists, but to conduct ther I go, ye cannot come; so now I say them as travellers, through a trackless wilto you.” Though he said many things after derness, to the land flowing with milk and this, yet this impressed the mind of Peter- honey. he resolved it again and again; and as soon Our Saviour, therefore, never encouraged as our Saviour paused, he suddenly asks, this principle. When a man asked him, * Lord, whither goest thou ?" Now, here is Lord, are there few that shall be saved ?" something which, if we cannot commend, we He would not answer the inquiry : yea, he


did not even notice the poor empty trifler at are some detained in life after their connexall: he said unto them, “Strive to enter in ions have fallen off; after disease and inat the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, firmity have rendered them unfit for active shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” employment: and they seem to themselves When he had told Peter his duty and destiny, as incumbrances, instead of helps. But there Peter saw John approaching; and asked, are some reasons for their detention, con

Lord, and what shall this man do?" But nected with the glory of God, and their own our Saviour said, " What if I will that he welfare; though, as to the knowledge of tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Fol- them, we must walk by faith and not by low thou me.” So here, he shows his judg- sight. ment of the inquiry by eluding it. But though Secondly. Peter was to follow him to the he does not gratify him, he instructs him. cross. He was to suffer for him, and like “ Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou him-he was to die the same kind of deathcanst not follow me now; but thou shalt fol- “ When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch low me afterwards.” In two senses, Peter forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, was to follow him, in due time to the throne, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. and to the cross : but at present he could fol. This spake he, signifying by what death he low him as to neither.

should glorify God.” But he could not folFirst. Peter was to follow him to glory. low him now, because he had not sufficient It was what our Lord prayed for, and what faith and resolution to suffer. The Saviour, he promised. “Father, I will that they therefore, forbears to call him to a task for whom thou hast given me be with me where which he was inadequate. This is very inI am, that they may behold my glory. Where structive. It shows us that our Lord's dealI am, there shall also my servant be.” This ings with bis people are founded not only in is true of all Christians. They are to be for kindness, but in wisdom and prudence. He ever with the Lord. He is gone to prepare a adapts the burden to the shoulder, or fits the place for them. He is their forerunner; their shoulder to the burden; he srnooths the road, trustee; and has taken possession of heaven or prepares the foot-so is the promise; “Thy in their name. Already he has drawn their shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy day, hearts after him; and he will by-and-by draw so shall thy strength be.” Some of you can their persons. But for every thing there is look back and remember how you dreaded

He could not follow him now such and such trials. You thought, that if because, though our Saviour's hour was they should befall you then, you must sink come, Peter's was not; though the Master under them-and so you would. But he had finished the work given him to do, the gradually prepared you for them; and when servant had scarcely begun his—and “ we they actually came, your mind was in a difare all immortal till our work is done.” Ene- ferent state--you had other views and feelmies cannot hasten, nor friends retard, our ings—your faith was more strong, and your departure, before the time appointed of our hope more lively. Gideon, while threshing heavenly Father. Christians are sometimes in the barn, had not, and did not want, the impatient, and long to be gone; but this is degree of prowess which was necessary when wrong. * The best frame we can be in," he took the sword, and placed himself at the says Henry, " is to be ready to go, and wil head of the army; but when, in obedience to ling to stay:" if God has any thing for us to the Divine will, he entered the field, the do, or to suffer, for his sake. We have three Spirit of the Lord came upon him. It does good men in the Scripture who wished for not become you to cast down your souls by death: but they knew not what they said; imagining future difficulties, and comparing and are all blamed for it. The eagerness is them with your present strength. You should not only wrong, but useless

. What would not say, “ O, if I was called to prison, or a it avail the husbandman to fret and rave ? fiery stake, how could I endure !" See that Would this bring harvest the sooner? There you are the Lord's servant: endeavour to must be months of winter, and weeks of cold; hold yourself at his disposal; attend willingly and nights of frost, and days of rain and sun to the duty of the day; and leave the morshine. He cannot reap in May, or June: the row with him. Cast thy burden upon the order of nature forbids it. There is also an Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he will never order in grace. Why cannot you follow him suffer the righteous to be moved. Sufficient now? Perhaps you have an aged mother to for the day is the evil thereof—and what is support. Perhaps you have an infant charge better, sufficient for it too will be the grace. to rear. Perhaps you are destined to give This was our Saviour's meaning; and Peter birth to an institution of charity. Perhaps understood by his following him-his followyou are to exemplify religion in your temper ing him to suffer. "He, therefore, said unto and practice. Perhaps to recommend the him, “« Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? Gospel by your sufferings.-We must run, I do not want courage or zeal: Lord, “I will before we can conquer. We must fight, be- lay down my life for thy sake'—and what can fore we can triumph. What a length of time I do more?"

a season.

II. « Jesus answered him," with a coun- “ I am He!" He was now to be disowned tenance and voice more expressive of pity and forsaken; but he proves that he was able than severity—“

—“. Wilt thou lay down thy to read the heart, and to foresee certainly and life for my sake? Ah, Peter, this is sooner minutely what would happen, contrary to said than done. Life is not so easily parted every degree of probability.

For what ap with. You trembled upon the water, and be pearance was there that Peter would deny ginning to sink, you cried out, • Lord, save, I him-deny him just three times and three perish.'—Be not so confident now— - Verily, times that very night—and that very night verily, I say unto you, the cock shall not before the cock crew—and with the most crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.'” Let profane language? Of all the apostles, he us remark the sin; and derive some reflections seemed the most determined—the least likely from the melancholy statement.

to yield to fear-and had at this very time First. The crime was heinous. To deny engaged to die with him, rather than disown his Master was unfaithfulness : to deny his him—when, lo! at the very moment of giving Friend was perfidy: to deny his Benefactor this assurance of his attachment and fideliwas ingratitude: to deny his Redeemer was ty, Jesus declares, that in two or three hours, impiety. It was, for the time, to break off he would falsify every thing he had said and all connexion with him; it was saying, I thought! This was a proof that he “needed neither wish to serve him, nor to be saved by not that any should testify of man, for be him. I know him not, nor wish to know him knew what was in man." -“ Away with him-Crucify him.”

This foreknowledge, however, does not This, too, was the conduct of one who had justify or extenuate Peter's sin. Peter was been called from a low condition in life to the perfectly free and voluntary in what he did. high honour of apostleship of one who had Foreknowledge supposes, not renders things seen his miracles-of one who was with him certain: it does not compel men to sin: their in the Transfiguration, and in Jairus's cham- sins are committed not because they are foreber, when he raised the dead-of one who known, or foretold; but they are foreknown had confessed him, and said, “ To whom shall and foretold because they will be committed. we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life: Secondly. What reason have we to exand we believe and are sure that thou art claim, with David, “Lord, what is man!" Christ the Son of the living God." Three Survey him under the greatest advantages aggravations are here mentioned. First, he and obligations. Look-not at heathens, but was warned and admonished-he could not at Jewsa people distinguished and indulged plead ignorance. Secondly, the sin was im- above all the families of the earth. Lookmediately committed. Things soon wear off not at Jews, but at Christians, with all the from the mind; but here was no time for for- privileges of the Jews increased and perfectgetfulness the voice of the Saviour had ed. Look-not at those who are only Chris hardly left his ear-his own resolution had tians in name, and live under the dispensscarcely dropped from his lips-he had said, tions of the Gospel; but at those who are "I will never be offended,” and was offended partakers of the grace of God in truth." that very night : “ The cock shall not crow, Look at these—not only as chargeable with till thou hast denied me thrice"—which is infirmities; with drowsiness of attention, or the last aggravation-here is repetition. A wandering thoughts in divine things; but man may be surprised and overtaken in a overcome with temptation, and betrayed into fault; but the moment after, reflection may the grossest guilt--and no longer wonder return; and he may wonder, and shudder, that a man after God's own heart should pray, and flee. But Peter, after his first offence, “Keep back thy servant also from presumpfeels nothing—he renews it again and even tuous sins: let them not have dominion over again-yea, and cach time he waxes worse No longer wonder that our Sariour and worse, till a lie ends in an oath-and an should say, even to his disciples, "Take heed oath in a cursing !

to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be From this affecting statement let us, Se- overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, condly, derive some profitable remarks. and cares of this life, and so that day come

And, first : behold the foreknowledge of upon you unawares.” There is nothing too our Saviour. Whoever attentively reads the vile for us to fall into, if we are left of Him four Gospels must perceive that there was al- who alone can keep us from falling. ways soinething to relieve his humiliation, Thirdly. We see how little we are acand to convince us that his abasement was quainted with ourselves. When Peter said, not original, and constrained; but assumed "I will lay down my life for thy sake," he and voluntary: that “ he made himself of no spoke according to his feelings. But sincerity reputation; and for our sakes became poor." is not constancy. There is a goodness, comThe soldiers in the garden apprehended him, pared to the morning cloud and early dew, and led him away; but not till they went that soon passeth away. Peter did not conbackward and fell to the ground, in conse- sider the difference between an impulse and quence of his presenting himself, and saying, la principle; between an hour of ease and a


« VorigeDoorgaan »