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Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Amen.

SERMON XIV.

THE SIN AND REPENTANCE OF ST. PETER.

St. Luke xxii. 61, 62.

And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And

Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he said unto him, before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice ; and Peter went out and wept bitterly.

THERE are two very important incidents which occur in the course of the history of our Lord's sufferings, and which appear more particularly worthy our consideration, viz. the denial of his Master by Peter, and the story of the penitent thief. From both these much practical instruction may be drawn, and their introduction in this place will not, perhaps, be thought irrelevant among the series of discourses to which your attention has been called. The first of these will form the subject of our present meditations.

In our last discourse we gave some account of those sufferings which our blessed Saviour endured for us, when, in his human capacity, he offered himself up to death for our offences. It was not the least aggravation of these sufferings, that he was compelled to undergo them alone, unassisted by any of his companions. He had selected of his followers twelve whom he made particularly his friends and associates; to them he confided his feelings, he revealed his intentions, and as far as their unenlightened capacities would allow them to comprehend, explained the mysteries which belonged to him. And yet in the hour of his distress, one of these twelve infamously betrayed his Master to what he could not but have known was his death; all of them forsook him; and one being challenged as his disciple, denied with the bitterest oaths and execrations, that he knew any thing of him.

And who was the disciple who thus denied his Lord and Master ? Shall we

look for him among those whom we know but by name? Shall we seek for him among the weak and the timid ? Surely he will be found among the obscure; and at least his personal insignificance and his constitutional cowardice will plead some excuse for his failure. But among such we shall look for him in vain. To our surprise and to our regret, this weak imbecile trembler ; this forsaker of his Master, who shrank so pusillanimously from him in his afflictions, will prove to be St. Peter; no obscure unknown individual, but the very chief of the apostles ; no constitutional coward, but a man of great personal bravery; no indifferent follower of his Lord, but one, who for his zeal, had been exalted to the head of his fellows; and of whom (in allusion to his selection, as the first preacher of the Gospel both to Jews and to Gentiles, after the effusion of the Holy Ghost, on the day of Pentecost) Christ had said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ?." Not taken by surprise, but well forewarned of what would happen, and even cautioned as to what would be his own conduct; and who repelled the imputation with pride and confidence, “ Lord, though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee?"

It will not surely be uninstructive or uninteresting to us, if we pause a little on this subject; we surely shall not be passing our time unprofitably in enquiring into the circumstances of this story; we shall see that there are times when no zeal, no courage, not even a previous warning, will be sufficient to preserve him from the snares of the tempter, who depends upon himself only; it will caution us to rely on God for aid, and to shun every thing which has a tendency to selfsufficiency; it will give us hope for ourselves, after our numerous failings, when we see that he who fell so deeply, was finally, by God's grace, restored ; and it

1

Matt. xvi. 18.

2 Matt. xxvi. 35.

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