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elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day; then Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee. But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, satan; thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matt. xvi. 21-23. This conduct of Peter arose from his not understanding the nature of Christ's kingdom; which can only be understood by coming under the government of the spirit of Christ. When Jesus “ was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke xvii. 20, 21. But although Peter had experienced the baptism of repentance, which was typified by the watery baptism of John, he had not yet been introduced into the spiritual kingdom of Christ; for the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.” Notwithstanding he had heard this doctrine preached, and seen it exemplified in the meek, non-resisting example of the Saviour, his mind was still veiled by the prejudices of education, and he expected the Messiah to reign as a temporal prince, to subdue their outward enemies, instead of waiting in prayer that his power might be revealed in them, to subdue their spiritual enemies. It was therefore expedient for them that he should go away, in order that the “Comforter, which is the spirit of Truth, might come and lead them into all truth.” This Comforter is the manifestation of the same Divine life and light which dwelt in him, for “in him was life; and the life was the light of men: that is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John i. 4-9.
John. And did not Peter show that the natural man was still prevalent in him, when he took a sword and smote of the ear of the high priest's servant?
· Father. I think that was a very strong evidence that his heart had not been thoroughly brought under Christ's government, for the same spirit will always bring forth the same fruit. Now, the fruit of the Divine spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” Gal. v. 22.
James. I think Peter was very much like the professors of Christianity at the present day. He had not faith to suffer with Christ, but he was willing to fight for him.
Father. Yes: for he could fight without taking up the cross of self-denial. But how different was the conduct of the holy Jesus! for he “touched the servant's ear and healed it,” saying, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matt. xxvi. 52.
James. Perhaps Peter had mistaken his master's meaning, when he told them a little before, “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”
Father. It is very probable he did mistake it, as he was not then in a state of mind to understand spiritual things;—but his mistake was soon corrected, for when they said, “ Lord, here are two swords," he replied, “It is enough;" thereby intimating that he did not mean carnal weapons.
On considering the whole paragraph, in connexion with the precepts and examples of Christ, it is plain, that he intended only to warn them that a time of deep trial was approaching, when they would need the whole of that spiritual armour which is afterwards described by the apostle as the “whole armour of God.” “Stand therefore,” says he, “having your Joins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Eph. vi. 13-15.
These are the weapons of the Christian's warfare, and these were the weapons that Christ himself made use of. He overcame hatred by love, he conquered pride by meekness, and he triumphed over error by the spirit of Truth. He taught his disciples to resist not evil, but “when smitten on one cheek to turn the other also.” “Love your enemies,” said he, “ bless them that curse you, do good unto them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." "If you love them that love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?” But “be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust; and he is kind even to the unthankful and to the evil.” These sublime precepts of Jesus were exemplified in every act of his spotless life, for " when he was reviled he reviled not again, and when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” i Peter ii. 23. “To this end was I born,” said he, "and for this purpose came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” John xviii. 37. These glorious truths were taught in his discourses, confirmed by his example, and sealed with his blood. “As a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” but patiently bore all the sufferings that their iniquity inflicted upon him; and his faithfulness under sufferings was not only a sacrifice acceptable to God, but also an example to us. “For,” says the apostle, “what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable wilh God: for even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps.”1 Peter ji. 20, 21.
James. But, father, it seems to me, that if we were to follow this example and these precepts, we should be very often imposed upon and injured by the wicked.
Father. This was the very objection that the unbelieving Jews started in that day; for they said, “If we let this man thus alone, all men will believe on him, and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.” So they put him to a cruel and ignominious death; nevertheless the Romans did come, and take away their place and nation.
James. I believe most professors of Christianity expect to act upon peaceable principles, as soon as the state of the world will bear it. When the millenium shall come, then will “their swords be beaten into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; for nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
John. Yes, I suppose it will be very easy to refrain from fighting, when there shall be no provocation offered to us; but how is such a state of things to be brought about?
Father. The way is very clearly pointed out, it must be by the power of God, manifested in the meek example and patient sufferings of the faithful. This was the way that Christianity was first propagated; and its wonderful progress, during the days of the apostles and primitive martyrs, attests the wisdom and power of its divine Author. The apostle Peter, of whom we have been speaking, after that the Holy Spirit, with power from on high, had come upon him and renewed his heart, could then follow the meek example and holy precepts of Christ, and by preaching with boldness, and suffering with patience, even unto death, he bore testimony to the truth of the Gospel, and proved that his heart was then converted by the purifying influence of the Spirit of Christ. In those primitive times, the law of love governed the lives of the followers of Christ, and infuenced all their conduct, not only towards each other, but towards all mankind. They did not fight against their enemies, but prayed for them; and whenever primitive Christianity shall preyail in the world, it must bear the same fruits of meekness and love; for the tree will always be known by its fruits—“men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles.”
John. It appears to me that if all who profess to be followers of Christ would only walk in his footsteps, the world would soon wear a different aspect from what it now does.
James. I do not profess to be a religious man, but I can plainly see the great disparity there is between the profession and the practice of those who are called the followers of Christ; and I have at times been almost ready to conclude, that there is no genuine religion among them.
Father. There is no doubt that the cause of Truth has sustained more injury from the inconsistency of its professors, than from all the efforts of deists and infidels. But we must not charge upon Christianity the faults of those who merely profess the name, without becoming obedient to the Spirit of Christ; for in these is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, “In that day shall seven women take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” They do not depend upon Christ to give them the living bread, which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the soul;-nor do they wait for the water of life, which springs up in the obedient, dedicated mind;-neither do they wear the seamless garment of simplicity and truth: but they are willing to be called by his excellent name, while