« PreviousContinue »
know our constitutional disposition. Otherwise there will be darrger, that we ascribe to grace that which properly belongs to nature.
Peter was naturally a man of a fervent and impetuous mind. Hence he often spake and acted suddenly in cases, in which men of more coolness would have taken time for deliberation. When Christ said to his disciples, “ Ye all will be offended because of me this night," Peter answered without hesitation, “ Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” When Christ added, “Before the cock crow this night, thou shalt deny me thrice;" he, without standing to examine himself, replied, “Though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee." When the soldiers came to apprehend Jesus, it was asked, “Lord shall we smite with the sword ?” Peter, without waiting for permission, drew his sword, smote one of the officers and cut off his
When intelligence was received, that the Lord was risen, Peter and John started together and ran toward the sepulchre. John outran Peter and came first to the sepulchre. He stooped down and took a view of it, but went not into it. Peter soon arrived. He ran directly into the sepulchre to see and feel whether the body were there. Thus on the occasion mentioned in the text; when he was told, that Jesus stood on the shore of the lake, he tarried not for the boat to come to land, but plunged immediately into the water. So eager was he to be with his Lord, that he would not wait a moment for the boat.
This action was no evidence that Peter had more love to Christ than his brethren had. It was merely the effect of natural eagerness. The other disciples were as much in the way of their duty, while they were drawing their fishes to land, as Peter was while he was wading to the shore. By the goodness of Christ a bountiful supply had been given them. This might be of great use to them, not only for present consumption, but also for sale in the market. This draught of fishes was probably the means of their support for a considerable time. Had they all left the boat and lost what they had taken, they would have been guilty of great waste. Nor could they have justified the waste by pleading the ardor of their
love to Christ. For certainly love to his person and gratitude for his goodness would induce them to save what he had so miracu
lously put into their power. Peter and his brethren all loved their Lord and rejoiced to meet with him. If Peter showed the ardot of his affection in leaving the vessel, that he might be with Christ the sooner, they shewed the coolness of their prudence in waiting to bring the boat and the fishes along with them.
Let us never mistake the emotions of nature for the operations of grace. You feel perhaps a flow of affection in devotion, and an engagedness of mind in some other religious duties, and you think these to be indications of habitual piety. But enquire whether this fervor spreads through all your religion. If it does, it is, indeed, an amiable quality. But if it operates in particular cases only and leaves you indifferent in other matters equally important, it is not godly zeal, but natural temper occasionally excited into action. You feel an indignation against certain sins, which you see practised in the world, and you call this a zeal for God. But whose sins are they? If they are only the sins of your enemies—the sins of other sects—the sins of opposite partizans; and you are, at the same time, indifferent to the sins of your friends and adherents, your zeal is only spleen and ill nature. If you are zealous of good works in others, you will be zealous to repent of evil works in yourselves.
You have a great delight in the devotional duties of religion, and you are very constant in your attendance on them. Your piety is much to be commended. But see that your piety be uniform, and that it be an aid, not a hindrance to other duties to the duties of industry, sobriety, justice and charity. You see some more attentive to their worldly interest, than you think they ought to be, or need to be. But perhaps they are the best judges. Do you know the exigencies of their families ? Do you know how much they contribute to the relief of the poor? Do you know how much they give for the maintenance of religion? Do you know how much time they spend in the private exercises of piety? If they neglect the institutions of God and the worship of the sanctuary and the family for worldly ends, they, indeed, give too strong proof that the love of Christ dwells not in them. But if they observe all the duties of piety, in proper season, as well as you, and are only more frugal and industrious, you have
no more cause to censure them as strangers to the power of godliness, than Peter had to condemn his brethren as destitute of love to Christ, because they tarried with their boat to take care of their fishes and bring them to land, while he rushed through the water to the shore, leaving all behind.
The duties of religion are all consistent; and they ought to be so conducted, that they may be subservient to one another. Piety may assist us in our worldly labors; and these may assist us in our piety.
When the disciples saw what a number of fishes they had taken in the morning, after an unsuccessful night, their thoughts turned on Jesus, whose miraculous power and goodness they had often
When we see the success of our labors in our fields, and the bountiful supplies afforded to our wants, ought not our thoughts to rise in admiring gratitude to him, from whom comes every good and perfect gift? We are as much indebted to God for the common bounties of the field, as the disciples were for the special bounty of the sea. Unmindfulness of the Benefactor is as criminal in our case, as it would have been in their's.
If it becomes us thankfully to regard the bounties of Providence, much rather ought we to admire the blessings of grace. God has sent his Son into the world to procure salvation for sinners by his death on the cross. This salvation has been purchased; the price has been paid ; the offer is made, and made freely; the terms are stated and stated plainly. The offer let us accept with grátitude and joy.
Had the disciples contemptuously cast away the fishes, which had been miraculously brought to their net, their guilt, though great in itself, would have been small in comparison with their's, who despise the salvation purchased by the Saviour's blood. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? We are not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, who verily was ordained before the foundation of the world, but has been manifested in these last times for us, that by him we might believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, and who will bring all humble believers to glory with him, that where he is, there may they be also.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF JUDAS.
MATTHEW XXVII. 3, 4, 5.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was con
demnea, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us ? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and went and hanged himself.
We have here the sad story of Judas's base treachery, fruitless repentance and dismal end. The story is atteņded with many affecting circumstances, and contains many useful instructions and warnings. It is affecting to see the vile ingratitude of a disciple, who, after he had been admitted to particular friendship with his Lord, deliberately betrayed him into the hands of his enemies for a trifling consideration. It is affecting to see how the poor creature, when he had perpetrated the villainy, was tormented by his guilty conscience. But it is most affecting of all to see the despairing wretch precipitating himself into the eternal world, for relief from the horrors which he felt in this.
My design is to open to you the story, with its several circumstances, and point out the instructions suggested in it.
In the first place, we will consider the crime of Judas in its várious circumstances; and, secondly, the consequences to which it led, and the event in which it terminated.
Judas's crime was betraying, or rather attempting to betray his master into the hands of his enemies.
The chief priests, scribes and elders, being assembled in council, had resolved to take Jesus and put him to death. But as there were many who held him in high estimation, they feared, that a publick arrestation of him would occasion a popular tumult. They therefore deliberated, how they might take him by subtilty in the night, in the place of his retirement, when there would be none to resist their attempt.
Judas, knowing by some means or other, the subject of their deliberations, went to the chief priests and proposed, for a proper reward, to betray him into their hands. The bargain was closed; and from this time he sought opportunity to betray him. It was not long before one occurred. Jesus being retired into the garden of Gethsemane, his usual retreat for prayer, Judas brought a band of soldiers, conducted them into the garden, and by a perfidious salute, before agreed upon, betrayed him into their power.
We will consider the motives and aggravations of this sin.
1. Judas's ruling lust was covetousness. This was at the bottom of the crime under consideration. He went to the chief priests and said, “What will ye give me ?" Give me a reward, " and I will betray him to you." This was not the only instance of his avarice. He was appointed by his Lord, as a domestic steward, to provide for him and his attendants, to keep their common stock and to give alms to the poor. This trust he often abused by secretly applying to his own use some of the family property. He is therefore called a thief.
When Mary honored Christ by pouring precious ointment on his head, Judas had indignation, and said, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor ?" " This he spake, not because he cared any thing for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." Had the ointment been sold, the proceeds would have