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mises but he recovers, and his devotion departs with the danger and the disease. He is poor and afflicted; and he worships God in his family, and he loves to attend the preaching of the word of life;-he succeeds in business, and becomes rich and worldly-and has no time for the one, or relish for the other.
The religion of the second consists in external performances. They do a thousand things; but the heart is not in them. They would gladly give up the whole of their irksome task if they could do it with safety. Obedience is not enjoyed as their meat, but taken as their medicine. All their care is to make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter: they have no concern about inward purity; no struggles with innate depravity; no anxiety to have the heart right in the sight of God. But we know who has said, He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
The religion of the third is found in their connexions. They never examine or judge for themselves; but leave their ministers to think for them. Their own knees never bend before God; but they desire the prayers of others. They take shelter under the wing of godly parents, like the Jews, who thought they could not be destroyed because " they had Abraham to their father:" yet we read of one in hell, who said, “ Father, Abraham!" | Religion is a personal thing; and we can no more be saved by the piety of another than we can be nourished or refreshed by another's sleeping or eating.
in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judg-
How are real Christians represented?-As
What is the design of the Gospel? These are the words of an infallible Judge: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
How are the graces of the Holy Spirit described? What is faith? Is it a conviction that rests in the judgment? It overcomes the world; it purifies the heart. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." What is love? We read of the labour of love. What is hope? We read of a lively hope: "we are saved by hope." What is repentance? Behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!"
The religion of the fourth is ALL IN CHRIST. These ridicule the very notion of a work of grace in us: to look after any thing in our selves, though not self-derived, is legal and pharisaical. They have all in Christ-and so have we; but with this difference-we have all in him so as to seek all from him. We believe that when he died all was finished for us-and we are now praying that all may be finished in us. It is a glorious truth that in him we have sanctification as well as righteousness: but he cannot be our sanctification by suffering us to remain in sin-he is our sanctification, not by being a substitute for our sanctification, but by sanctifying us. Wo to the man who pleads for a religion, of which even Christ is the author, but of which he himself is not the subject! David prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." And the promise of the new covenant runs; "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit 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."
No wonder, therefore, it is here expressed, not by a pool; not by dead, but living water
All the images of Divine influence imply the same thing. Sometimes it is compared to leaven, which operates in the meal till the whole mass be leavened. Sometimes it is compared to fire, which penetrates and consumes every thing combustible within its reach. Sometimes it is likened to the force of vegetation; the seed sown is quickened and springs up, first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear.
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 behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."And such is the assured blessedness of the Christian; for the tendency of this Divine principle is not liable to frustration. It cannot issue in hell. Grace is nothing, unless it conquers, as well as fights. But,
The difference between grace and glory is not so great as some may imagine. They differ only in degree. The state is the same; the nature is the same. Grace is glory in the bud, and glory is grace in the flower. The one is the child, the other the man: the one the dawn, the other the day. For what is heaven? Is it a condition, in which all worldly distinctions will be done away, and 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 now. "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 my mother and sister and brother." Does it consist in perpetual blessing and praise? He is entering it now. "I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Are the glorified happy in being ever with the Lord! He now cries, "O that I knew where I might find him!" As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"
We may say reversely the same of sin. There is a connexion between sin and hell. They only differ in degree. In the present experience of the wicked, hell is not only insured, but begun. He is miserable already in the strife between his convictions and his inclinations; in the reproaches of his conscience; in the tyranny of his passions; in the contempt of the wise and good; in the vexations of life; in the fears of death. What he now suffers is sufficient to prove a tendency in sin to produce misery: and the only reason why he is not completely miserable at present, is, because he has now the advantage of diversions ; because he lives in a mixed state of things; because he is under a dispensation of forbearance and mercy-but all these preventions will soon give way, and the perfect result of sin will be-read it in the Scripture, and tremble.
"Grace will complete what grace begins,
May God deliver you from a course, the way of which is hard, and the end of which
A Christian, therefore, has something of heaven now: he has it in its source; in its elements; in its earnests; in its foretastes. Is he in the temple? He is "made joyful in God's house of prayer:" he "sees his power and glory in the sanctuary." Is he alone? My soul," says he, "shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on 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, and testify that we have seen: and that which we have heard and seen declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ."
And yet all we possess, all we enjoy, all we experience, all we know, here, is not worthy to be compared with the glory that 2 T 28*
PETER'S CURIOSITY AND PRE-
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go,' thou canst not follow me now; but thou
shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said * unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.-John xiii. 36-38. No kind of writing is so entertaining, instructive, and useful, as biography; and for this species of composition, there is no book like the Bible. We have, indeed, no complete lives given us; but we have sketches of character, remarkable for their discrimination and effect: we have no full-length and finished portraits, but we have bold outlines and touches, which instantly and powerfully recall the originals.
Here, also, we have no "faultless monsters." When I am reading of a person, and the writer labours to represent him as perfect, I feel more than dissatisfied: I am imposed upon: I have fable given me instead of fact: I feel no moral sympathy with the subject, he does not belong to the order of humanity. In the Scriptures we have men pourtrayed as they were: their defects, as well as excellences, are placed before us; and we see what we have to shun, as well as to pursue.
know not how entirely to censure. It has been said, that the very imperfections of good men are peculiar, and betray their excellences. Here we see Peter's love to his Lord, and concern for his presence. It is always trying to part with a dear relation or friend. Rachel weeps for her children, and refuses to be comforted, because they are not. When Elijah was going to be taken up from the earth, we see how his disciple Elisha followed him from place to place, and would not go back. When Jonathan and David were about to separate, they fell upon each other's neck and wept, until each exceeded. When, at Miletus, “Paul kneeled down and prayed with the brethren, they all wept sore, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more." But think of Christ! What a benefactor, what a master was he! How had he endeared himself to his Disciples-how essential must he have appeared to their happiness and welfare? Could Peter then view his continuance with them, or removal, with indifference?
But if our Saviour blames Peter, Peter was blameworthy; for He always judges righteous judgment. Peter was a little too curious-a fault, I fear, by no means uncommon. For how many are there, who are more anxious to know secret things, which belong unto God, than to improve the things revealed, which are for us, and for our children. How much attention has been employed in fruitless inquiries, concerning the Divine decrees, the downfall of antichrist, the
Peter always appears in the sacred story, like himself. The individuality of his character is supported with wonderful propriety and consistency. We always find him eager, forward, impetuous; always zealous, but his zeal not always according to knowledge; equally rash and affectionate; speaking first and thinking afterward; bold in profession, 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-trifling and needless diversions?
I. Simon Peter said unto him, 66 Lord, whither goest thou?" The question was occasioned by what our Saviour had said in a former part of his discourse: "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you." Though he said many things after this, yet this impressed the mind of Peterhe 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
The Bible is not designed to indulge our curiosity, but to be the guide of our faith, and the rule of our life: like the pillar given to the Israelites; which was not intended to amuse them as naturalists, but to conduct them as travellers, through a trackless wilderness, to the land flowing with milk and honey.
are some detained in life after their connexions have fallen off; after disease and infirmity have rendered them unfit for active employment: and they seem to themselves as incumbrances, instead of helps. But there are some reasons for their detention, connected with the glory of God, and their own welfare; though, as to the knowledge of them, we must walk by faith and not by sight.
did not even notice the poor empty trifler at all: he said unto them, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." When he had told Peter his duty and destiny, Peter saw John approaching; and asked, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" But our Saviour said, "What if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." So here, he shows his judgment of the inquiry by eluding it. But though he does not gratify him, he instructs him. "Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards." In two senses, Peter was to follow him, in due time—to the throne, and to the cross: but at present he could follow him as to neither.
Secondly. Peter was to follow him to the cross. He was to suffer for him, and like him-he was to die the same kind of death"When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God." But he could not follow him now, because he had not sufficient faith and resolution to suffer. The Saviour, therefore, forbears to call him to a task for which he was inadequate. This is very instructive. It shows us that our Lord's dealings with his people are founded not only in kindness, but in wisdom and prudence. He adapts the burden to the shoulder, or fits the shoulder to the burden; he smooths the road, or prepares the foot-so is the promise; "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy day, so shall thy strength be." Some of you can look back and remember how you dreaded
First. Peter was to follow him to glory. It was what our Lord prayed for, and what he promised. Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory. Where I am, there shall also my servant be." This is true of all Christians. They are to be for ever with the Lord. He is gone to prepare a place for them. He is their forerunner; their trustee; and has taken possession of heaven in their name. Already he has drawn their hearts after him; and he will by-and-by draw their persons. But for every thing there is
a season. He could not follow him now-such and such trials. You thought, that if
because, though our Saviour's hour was come, Peter's was not; though the Master had finished the work given him to do, the servant had scarcely begun his-and “we are all immortal till our work is done." Enemies cannot hasten, nor friends retard, our departure, before the time appointed of our heavenly Father. Christians are sometimes impatient, and long to be gone; but this is 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?"
they should befall you then, you must sink under them-and so you would. But he gradually prepared you for them; and when they actually came, your mind was in a different state-you had other views and feelings-your faith was more strong, and your hope more lively. Gideon, while threshing in the barn, had not, and did not want, the degree of prowess which was necessary when
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 apwith. 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 engaged to die with him, rather than disown him-when, lo! at the very moment of giving this assurance of his attachment and fidelity, Jesus declares, that in two or three hours, he would falsify every thing he had said and thought! This was a proof that he “needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man."
First. The crime was heinous. To deny
From this affecting statement let us, Secondly, derive some profitable remarks.
And, first: behold the foreknowledge of our Saviour. Whoever attentively reads the four Gospels must perceive that there was always something to relieve his humiliation, and to convince us that his abasement was not original, and constrained; but assumed and voluntary: that "he made himself of no reputation; and for our sakes became poor." The soldiers in the garden apprehended him, and led him away; but not till they went backward and fell to the ground, in consequence of his presenting himself, and saying,
This foreknowledge, however, does not justify or extenuate Peter's sin. Peter was perfectly free and voluntary in what he did. Foreknowledge supposes, not renders things certain: it does not compel men to sin: their sins are committed not because they are foreknown, or foretold; but they are foreknown and foretold because they will be committed.
Secondly. What reason have we to exclaim, with David, Lord, what is man!" Survey him under the greatest advantages and obligations. Look-not at heathens, but at Jews-a people distinguished and indulged above all the families of the earth. Looknot at Jews, but at Christians, with all the privileges of the Jews increased and perfected. Look-not at those who are only Christians in name, and live under the dispensations of the Gospel; but at those who are partakers of the grace of God in truth." Look at these-not only as chargeable with infirmities; with drowsiness of attention, or wandering thoughts in divine things; but overcome with temptation, and betrayed into the grossest guilt-and no longer wonder that a man after God's own heart should pray, "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over me." No longer wonder that our Saviour should say, even to his disciples, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." There is nothing too vile for us to fall into, if we are left of Him who alone can keep us from falling.
Thirdly. We see how little we are acquainted with ourselves. When Peter said, "I will lay down my life for thy sake,” he spoke according to his feelings. But sincerity is not constancy. There is a goodness, compared to the morning cloud and early dew, that soon passeth away. Peter did not consider the difference between an impulse and a principle; between an hour of ease and a